“Real Enthusiasts Drive Their Own Cars”

Jesse Max Muir

As someone who is undeniably immersed in both physical and online car communities (and having blogged about both on several occasions) I have had extensive experience with both past and modern technologies. My first car was from 1962, it had no airbags, no power steering, now power breaks, a cable based clutch, manual transmission, and carbureted fuel supply as opposed to modern electronic fuel injection. Despite the almost primate nature of this car, the experience of driving it was best described as raw with the driver in complete control. Alternatively, I recently had experienced my most modern car to date with a 2013 Abarth 500. This car had ABS, an automatic transmission, reverse parking sensors, disk brakes, Bluetooth, airbags, power steering, and most importantly an ECU, which amongst other things, would prevent the driver from shifting gears at a time it did not deem safe and would not let the…

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The Bad Apple

NoWayImHuman

The birth of the corporation began after the Industrial age in 1712, when the need arose to boost productivity. They have since grown into a dominant and prevalent part of our daily lives as we consume every product and service, which they release to us. We like to believe that the corporation was established to work together with the community, to inspire them towards a more economical future.

MomCorpHQ

However, with the rise of the cyberpunk genre, the image of an ‘evil corporation’ otherwise known as the megacorp has altered the way we view corporations and their work for the community. William Gibson’s 1984 novel ‘Neuromancer’ captures the niche market of the science fiction genre, cyberpunk, steering heavily towards a “technological near-future dystopia” (Samplereality, 2014).

neuromancer.jpg

Gibson also refers heavily to a recurring political dominance of ‘megacorps’, which suggest a “person” (organisation) who hold “immense power over many markets and often have…

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Politics and Ideologies of Data Visualisation

Introduction

The following progress report on my research into the politics and ideologies of data visualisation, begins with a brief overview of my academic, scholarly and industry-relevant research and includes concise summaries of arguments to be shared in related DICG335 projects.


I am a Bachelor of Arts undergraduate student, majoring in sociology and minoring in design.  Questions of politics and ideology, broad public policy positions and related agendas overlap and concern the agendas of social policy analysts.

My undergraduate training brings the academically relevant study of neoliberalism, population geography and statistics to bear on the progress of my current project.  Relevantly, since 2011 I have conducted independent research into the politics and ideology of data visualisation in examining the social issue known as forced adoption.  I have also undertaken independent historical research into 20th century Australian state welfare policies and practices. This background knowledge informs my current research and provides the interim results of an ongoing case study.  Significantly, I have also sourced the collaborative subject blog, Cybercultures, where  Dr. Christopher Moore recently introduced me to Accelerationism, theories of systems decay, entropy and more.

Resources that have guided the development of my topic thus far are hyperlinked in the following draft outline of my research report. Each of four headings below open with a related concise summary of related arguments to be shared in Assessments 2 & 3.  These summaries have been informed by DIGC335 course material suggests and are paraphrased as block quotes below. The following research has relevance not only to the industries of social work and child welfare but education and software development.

Data visualisation, history and cyberculture

I will argue that data visualisation technology looks to the past as much as it does to the future in thinking about cyberculture and the types of technological, corporate, political, social, and legal changes that have been represented in popular culture.

Politics and ideologies of data visualisation 

I will argue that governments and bureaucracies have significant authority in the relationship between the user and the computer, aiming questions of cyberculture at the legitimacy of related structures of command and control.

Case study: Towards a statistical and contextual analysis of forced adoption (unpublished and ongoing)

This emancipatory research was undertaken to examine the statistical grounds for viewing ‘forced adoption’ as a ‘product of the times‘ (see mores of society, predicated by legislation prohibiting their taboos).

It will be employed in the current research to exemplify how the politics and ideologies of data visualisation speak to the limits and affordances of our technology infused realities.

  • Significant findings:
    • Illegitimate children are a known targeted group (para 2:14, p.34, Senate Report).
    • Statistical analysis reveals trends at odds with what social scientists regarded as indicative of social mores in 1976 (see Kraus).
    • Forced adoptions peaked between 1953-4, contrary to hegemonic discourse.
    • Historical practices and policies consistently correlated with exponential trends in annual proportions of adoptions to ex-nuptial births.
    • Evidence of a  crisis between 1965-72 and an exponential increase in welfare payments to unmarried women aged 17 and over 1971-72.
    • Underpinning ideologies, such as  euthenics and eugenics (White Australia Policy), suggested systematisation or automation of social and political policies of illegitimate child removal.
    • National and state exponential decline in adoptions circa 1971-2 may be due to social entropy.

Imaginaries and Futures

Scholarly research will be employed to argue that the politics and ideologies of data visualisation speak to a broad range of issues and concerns which have arisen as a result of the proliferation of digitally-enabled communication, networked computation and media technologies and practices.

Header image:

Infinite Unknown, 2017, retrieved March 16, <http://www.infiniteunknown.net/tag/history/&gt;

Let me project you back in time…

jadelaurenhall

During this semester I aim to work on projection throughout MEDA301, DIGC335 and DIGC310. This will work to my advantage, due to many cases I have stumbled across which have already led me down new topics of research in each class that I can bring together. In DIGC310 I am creating a board game that uses projection to add to the elements of the game that I will be creating. Motion gesture as well as augmented reality is also two concepts that I have been researching in order to incorporate them into the board game (or at least attempt).

Therefore, during this subject I will be exploring the limitations of projecting in different environments, on different objects, playing with what I am projecting and sharing my results with you as my DA. As an extension I will be showing you my completed board game with projection from my DIGC310 class.

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Project Ideas: Planned Obsolescence & E-Waste

This first blog post is aimed towards providing a comprehensive progress account of the individual Cyberculture research project due at the end of the semester. To beginning, a topic of interest has to be chosen. A topic that interested me was planned obsolescence and electronic waste, or e-waste. These are topics that no one really thinks of and have become automatic responses. Let us back up a few steps. What is planned obsolescence? What is e-waste?

Planned obsolescence “occurs where the design of technologies is subsumed within the discourses of manufacturing, consumption and the logic of planned obsolescence in which the product or parts are intended to fail, degrade or under perform over time” (Moore, 2009 Digital Games Distribution: The Presence of the Past and the Future of Obsolescence).

This is a business or marketing strategy, where the obsolescence of the product is planned and built into the production, distribution, and advertising practices. The goal is to create consumer “need” for a newer, updated version. An easy example is the iPhone. Apple comes out with a new iPhone every year.

Screen Shot 2017-03-13 at 4.08.01 PM

(Costello, 2016 When Does The New iPhone Come Out?).

Why is that? It is because they know people are looking to upgrade their devices when they get the chance. So, they release a new phone every year, usually in the beginning of the fall, advertising their sleek new model and all the new features. This also gets at the idea of stylistic obsolescence, which Apple is guilty of.

Stylistic obsolescence is simply the idea that fashion and styles change over time and therefore change products and consumption habits. “Stylistic obsolescence is differentiated from mechanical or technological obsolescence as the deliberate supersedence of products by more advanced designs, better production techniques and other minor innovations” (Look back at Moore, 2016).

So how does planned obsolescence relate to cell phone contracts and providers? It used to be that customers were on 2 year contracts and got discounted phones along with their plan. Now times are changing. Companies like Verizon and AT&T are getting rid of their contracts and consumers just sign up for a monthly plan, but they have to purchase their device on their own. So the consumer could  save more money by holding on to their phone for a longer period of time (Luckerson, 2016).

However, Apple makes it so enticing to upgrade because they have upgrade plans, where you make payments on a phone monthly and have the option to upgrade every 12 months.

But how long do most people actually hold on to their phone before upgrading? According to a Gallup survey “54% of smartphone users say they will upgrade their phone ‘only when it stops working or becomes totally obsolete’… 44% percent of smartphone users say they will upgrade their model ‘as soon as your cellphone provider allows it, usually every two years’… and “A mere 2% say they upgrade their phone ‘when a new model is released, usually about every year'” (Swift, 2015).

chartoftheday_3634_smartphone_upgrades_n_large

Statista

These results were actually very surprising to me. I was shocked by the percent of people that upgrade every year, I thought that number was going to be higher. I had this perception because whenever a new iPhone comes out, it seems that everyone is waiting for its release and order it during pre-sale. iPhone 7 Plus sold out before hitting shelves (Sydney Morning Herald, 2016).

Apple broke tradition and did not release first weekend sales to the public. Thus making consumers wonder if Apple iPhone sales (a critical product for Apple) are leveling off.

Now on to the second term I mentioned earlier. E-waste. What is it? It is any electronic that is disposed of, such as computers, phones, refrigerators, televisions, air conditioning units, and so on. Items like these are disposed of at an increasing rate and are usually done so using unsafe methods not only for the people trying to dispose of it, but also for the environment. According to Jacopo Ottaviani, “Only a small part of this waste – about 15.5% in 2014 – is recycled with methods that are efficient and environmentally safe” (Ottaviano, 2015).

The United States is the largest producers of e-waste per person. While other developing countries are producing e-waste at an increasing rate.

Screen Shot 2017-03-11 at 11.56.02 PM

Click here to explore the Aljazeera interactive webpage.

Many of the electronics that are disposed of still have value, either because they are still functioning or because they contain materials inside that can be harvested and sold.

Therefore, these electronics are shipped to developing countries like Ghana. However, Ghana is experiencing economic growth and its capital Accra is a center for receiving, recycling, and disposing of e-waste (Ottaviano, 2015, interactive page). This area is filled with repair shops and second hand markets, which try and use these electronics to their full potential. Yet there is too much e-waste and Accra has become a dumpsite for electronics. Here the poorest classes of Accra live and scavenge for materials to sell. Many young boys collect electric cables and burn them for the copper inside to sell for a small amount of money. “The fumes released from this is harmful for their health and the environment. The toxic fumes rise into the sky, poison the air and then settle on the soil and on the vegetables sold at the market,” explains an environmental activist from Accra.

E-waste Hell | SBS News

The video here, made by environmental journalists, displays the conditions in Ghana, the health of the people, and uncovers how e-waste gets into the country. Countries are suppose to dispose of the electronics themselves, but instead they ship them to developing countries like Ghana. However it is illegal to ship hazardous e-waste to developing countries without a permit. So how do they get there? They are falsely declared as “working secondhand goods”(SBS, 2011, E-Waste Hell).

So now that we know what e-waste and planned obsolescence is, what do we do about it? Just continue to do what we do? Or try and defeat planned obsolescence and reduce e-waste? How do we even go about stopping it? Do people want to stop it?

We live an a time where technology is all around us. There is practically nothing humans do anymore that does not involve some type of technology. Whether it is something as everyday as watching the television, or using our phones for communication or GPS.

We are so accustomed to using our devices and other technologies every minute of everyday, most of us could not even imagine going a single day without our phone or computer. These technologies have become a part of us and have shaped our lives and helped us make connections to places and people all over the world, and with the help of technology all of this can be accessed at our finger tips.

I think as I continue to do research on this topic I will narrow it down and focus of specific case studies that have already tried different ways to reduce e-waste and try to think of new ways myself. I would also like to share and educate others who might not know about this topic and hopefully encourage others to reduce their e-waste. To do this I am considering creating a YouTube video that discusses this topic and offer solutions for this problem. I have some previous experience making short videos, so hopefully making another video will increase my skills and continue to improve as I make more videos. So stay tuned for the next blog post where I will share more research and possible solutions that I find!

References 

Anon, 2016. “Apple iPhone 7 Plus sold out before hitting shelves.” The Sydney Morning Herald. Available at: <http://www.smh.com.au/business/innovation/apple-iphone-7-plus-sold-out-before-hitting-shelves-20160915-grh6gl.html&gt; [Accessed 16 Mar. 2017].

Anon, 2016. “How to Buy a New Phone Without a Two-Year Contract.” Time. Available at: <http://time.com/4171314/cell-phone-two-year-contracts-upgrade-iphone/&gt; [Accessed 16 Mar. 2017].

Anon, 2017. “iPhone Upgrade Program – Apple.” iPhone Upgrade Program – Apple. Available at: <http://www.apple.com/shop/iphone/iphone-upgrade-program&gt; [Accessed 16 Mar. 2017].

Costello, S., 2016. “Don’t Buy a New iPhone Before Reading This.” Lifewire. Available at: <https://www.lifewire.com/when-does-new-iphone-come-out-1999740&gt; [Accessed 16 Mar. 2017].

D.S.B.S., 2011. “E-Waste Hell.” YouTube. Available at: <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dd_ZttK3PuM&gt; [Accessed 16 Mar. 2017].

Moore, C.L., 2009. “Digital Games Distribution: The Presence of the Past and the Future of Obsolescence.”  M/C Journal. Available at: <http://journal.media-culture.org.au/index.php/mcjournal/article/view/166&gt; [Accessed 16 Mar. 2017].

Ottaviani, J., 2017. “E-waste Republic.” E-waste Republic. Available at: <http://interactive.aljazeera.com/aje/2015/ewaste/index.html&gt; [Accessed 16 Mar. 2017].

Richter, F., 2015. “Infographic: iPhone Users Most Likely to Upgrade Every Two Years.”  Statista Infographics. Available at: <https://www.statista.com/chart/3634/smartphone-upgrades/&gt; [Accessed 16 Mar. 2017].

Swift, A., 2015. “Americans Split on How Often They Upgrade Their Smartphones.” Gallup.com. Available at: <http://www.gallup.com/poll/184043/americans-split-often-upgradesmartphones.aspxutm_source=Economy&utm_medium=newsfeed&utm_campaign=tiles&gt; [Accessed 16 Mar. 2017].