Tag Archives: DIGC335

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;

Employment and living with AI

When it comes to artificial intelligence, there are many people who believe that the introduction of artificial intelligence and robots could lead to a  dystopian world similar to that portrayed in “Terminator Salvation” (p.s. Terminator Salvation is a terrible film), where robots have enslaved humanity. Whilst not entirely implausible, the threat of unemployment is a much greater moral concern  surrounding unemployment, with the World Economic Forum  suggesting that as many as 5 million jobs, from 15 developed and emerging economies could be lost by 2020 (Brinded, 2016). In fact, many people are already starting to lose their jobs to machines with self-serve checkouts being a major example of the way machines have been able to do a job, previously undertaken by human employees, but with greater efficiency and lower cost.  However, I am more focused on investigating the threat posed by human-like robots, rather than machines in general. Why? Because that’s what society imagines when you mention artificial intelligence. They imagine machines that replicate our human bodies.

terminator-0-0
source

In countries such as Japan, many more jobs are now being done by robots. In fact, there is a theme park in Nagasaki, Japan that is about open a “robot kingdom” section where over 200  robots will work as bartenders, chefs, luggage carriers and more.(Niinuma, 2016).  At the 2016 Milken Institute’s Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California, many of the guests confirmed that robots are slowly becoming employed by various companies, at the expense of us humans (Japan Today, 2016). The idea of robots or sentient beings in relation to the workforce, leads to a greater moral question: Could humans and robots co-exist peacefully?

In his book ‘Digital Soul: Intelligent Machines and Human Values ‘, Thomas M. Georges hypothesizes how the introduction of sentient beings in society might be received by humans. Georges states that “learning to live with superintelligent machines will require us to rethink our concept of ourselves and our place in the scheme of things” (Georges 2003, pg. 181). This statement raises many philosophical questions, which I will explore in my next blog post alongside an in-depth look at the 2015 film ‘Ex-Machina’. Georges’ statement does, however, imply that unsurprisingly living with robots would cause some conflict and would not be a smooth transition for humans. Having said that, many will say that we are already living amongst various forms of “weak” AI such as Siri or Cotana, smart home devices and the somewhat annoying purchase prediction. However, these are forms of “weak” AI and we are still a long way away from a society where humans co-exist  with sentient beings. All we can do, for now, is worry and imagine.

References

Brinded, L 2016, “WEF: Robots, automation and AI will replace 5 million human jobs by 2020”, Business Insider Australia, viewed 4th May 2016, http://www.businessinsider.com.au/wef-davos-report-on-robots-replacing-human-jobs-2016-1?r=UK&IR=T

Georges, T. M. 2003, Digital soul: intelligent machines and human values. Boulder, CO: Westview Press

N/A 2016, “Rich and powerful warn robots are coming for your jobs.”, Japan Today  Viewed May 5, 2016, http://www.japantoday.com/category/technology/view/rich-and-powerful-warn-robots-are-coming-for-your-jobs

Niinuma, O 2016, “Theme park’s ‘robot kingdom’ seeks to upend Japan’s service industry”, Nikkei Asian Review, viewed May 5 2016, http://asia.nikkei.com/Tech-Science/Tech/Theme-park-s-robot-kingdom-seeks-to-upend-Japan-s-service-industry?utm_source=fark&utm_medium=website&utm_content=link

Authentic

Does authenticity exist in social media? Probably not would be my answer, we all glamorise our social media profiles in some way or another. I’m not saying that it is bad that social media is unauthentic but rather trying to draw that people need to be aware of the truth behind what people post. Exaggerating on social media by portraying this perfect persona of our life through filtered lenses is the same as celebrities who look beautiful but have actually spent millions on plastic surgery, except for us theres no surgery, instead strategic lighting, angles and filters.

Have you heard of the social media application called BEME ? Bebe is an application that was launched in 2015 that promises to free people from the snobbery behind what they post. Authenticity is in short supply online, says application founder and creator Casey Neistat with social media forcing us to present over-stylized and over-perfect versions of ourselves to world. Bebe is an app where the user can only record and post video when the front of their phone screens are covered up, the suggested ways for this are to press the front of the phone to your head or chest so that a 4 second clip can record your surroundings and post it automatically without you being able to edit or filter.

Here’s Kevin Spacey talking about Beme

I tested out the app and it honestly felt a little weird, it even felt a bit invasive as i posted videos without having any control over them. I did find it interesting watching other peoples posts as it was like I was living in their shoes momentarily. It was nice though when posting to not have to worry about filtering or planning the image.

However I don’t necessarily think that Beme, although is achieving to create an authentic social media app is actually succeeding, because we can still choose when and what we post. Like I could only Beme when i’m doing excersise, or run for 2 minutes and post it to Beme without actuating running? Social media isn’t authentic, but are we as humans actually authentic? We all act differently when we’re around certain people, I’m probably more “authentic” around my family as I feel more comfortable around them, however I might try to be more happy, fun or interesting if I’m around new friends or people I’ve never met before. Social media is just another part of how humans want other humans to perceive them. It’s way we talk, dress, act and now thanks to social media what we post that helps others define who we are. I make sure my instagram feed makes me look like a happy, fun, adventurous not because I want to falsify who I am but because I want my followers to enjoy the photos I post.

tell the truth

We all know that digital media has become embedded in our everyday lives, and have changed the way we engage in communication, creative expression and how we produce knowledge. I plan to argue that instagram and other social media’s are negatively effecting our identity construction, especially in young people, under 25.

Rachel Brathen, a “instagram celebrity,” shared in a TEDx talk in 2015 that she slowly became famous on instagram from posting photos about yoga, health, food and happiness. However when she posted a photo of tequila with the hashtag “long day” her follower slammed her for being a hypocrite.It gave her the realisation that she wasn’t being completely honest with her followers. It is one of the dangers of social media, what we share and orchestrate our lives to be is what people actually believe to be true, not everyone see’s through the filters of social media.

Tell the truth. What is the truth? Social media is so often used to construct the idealistic online lifestyle. Adolescents in 2016 are having their identity influenced or even are finding it through social media. An identity isn’t something we are born with but is rather a socially constructed attribute. Who we are isn’t only determined by internal factors but also external, this is where social media comes into affect. Social media has become an extension of our identity formation. Part of identity formation is thinking about the type of person we want to be and social media allows for people, especially adolescents, to use this constant flow of information, photographs, videos, celebrities to be a guide for their own social comparison. Ideas and values that teenagers are developing of the world through social media aren’t always necessarily how the real world actually works. Likes don’t actually correlate to the future success of a young person.

An Exotic Lie Detector, A Consensual Hallucination, Crime Coefficient over 531

 

Last week I researched the Cyberpunk genre, its dystopic settings, its portrayal of (or the lack of) the separation of the organic and artificial, as well as Jon Turneys “Imagined objects”. From here I will begin refining my final digital artefact, with the aim of developing a complete Virtual Cyberpunk Store.

To begin, I have selected the first 3 objects I will be exploring:

1. The Voight Kampff Machine – Blade Runner:
A lie detector-type device that allows the user to distinguish between humans and androids using biometrical measurements.

 

2. The OSC 7 Cyberdeck – Neuromancer:
An advanced computer system used to jack into the matrix.

tumblr_nmpoxsp7FN1syrjl3o1_1280.png

 

 

3. The DominatorPsycho-Pass:
A gun that can determine the identity of the user, requiring authentication in order to read and send psychological data (Psycho-Pass) of targets in order to calculate their crime coefficient.

cerevo_life_size_psycho-pass_dominator_replica_1

 

For each of these objects displayed in my store, I will create an in-depth discourse exploring the textual background and the contextual societal concerns, as well as a description of what they are used for within their texts.
A further element I am considering is pricing the items in specific currencies, and possibly even creating comparisons between similar items.

This will involve drawing on Cyberpunk theory, as well as wider sci-fi theory and how these genres impact on real science and technology. Furthermore, research into Design Fiction will help in my representation of the ‘imagined objects’. Lastly, and most obviously I will, and have been, engaging in the texts of which these items come from.

Another step which I am about take is to begin developing the store site. If I can find an effective way of reading material within VR, I will definitely be looking at creating a VR store, with my items through Unreal Engine. However, I feel a much more realistic approach will be to create a web-store.

 

Ethical Issues of AI

In the popular 1993 thriller ‘Jurassic Park’, Jeff Goldblum’s  character says to Richard Attenborough’s character ” your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should.” The reason I quote this, is that in this post, I intend to focus on the ethical aspect of AI. However, before I focusing on the ethical issues of relating to Artificial Intelligence, I will first attempt to differentiate ethics and morals, as they are often intertwined and confused with each other.

Separating the ethical and moral aspects of any particular topic is incredibly difficult, as ethics and morals often cross-over and are almost one of the same. Now for those of you who don’t know, the word ‘ethics’ originates from the Greek word ethos and ethikos and the word ‘morals’ is derived from the Latin word mores and moralis. In an article for The Conversation, Walker & Lovat state that “‘ethics’ leans towards decisions based upon individual character” whilst  ” ‘morals’ emphasises the widely shared communal or societal norms about right and wrong” (Walker & Lovat, 2014). So, if we follow these differences, where does that leave us, in regards to the various issues regarding Artificial Intelligence?

In regards to Artificial Intelligence, it is incredibly difficult to the ethical and moral issues, as they are often intertwined. The moral (societal) issues  are well-known to us: what happens if robots turn on us? what happens when we lose our jobs to robots? Can we feel truly safe in the presence of robots?  However, what are the ethical (individual) issues that are associated with Artificial Intelligence?

One ethics-driven issue that seems to be prevalent amongst the scientific community is that of technological singularity. Technological singularity refers to a hypothetical moment in the future when artificial intelligence surpasses the limitations of mankind and would therefore be the ones developing new technologies, rather than scientists. Why is this an ethical issue? Well, if you think about it, the scientists who are developing the technology for artificial intelligence are essentially helping create a possible future where humans are no longer useful  and are no longer in control. There are many ongoing arguments as to whether technological singularity is something we should fear or embrace. Which is why it can be considered to be an ethical issue of artificial intelligence and is arguably the most important.

Arguably the more recognized and acknowledged ethical issue, “The Frankenstein Complex” is an issue that remains significant even today and is one that can be discussed with enormous depth (on this note, this issue will be further explored in my podcast series). “The Frankenstein Complex” refers to the “almost religious notion that there are some things only God should know” (McCauley 2007, pg. 10). Although this idea may be more prominent in science-fiction than in everyday life, “The Frankenstein Complex” is still a prevalent issue amongst the scientific community and one that continues to cause debate.

frankenstein-bladerunner1

Image from: https://rhulgeopolitics.wordpress.com/2015/10/17/ships-brooms-and-the-end-of-humanity/

 

To conclude, there are many ethical issues associated with artificial intelligence, yet many of them are intertwined with the moral aspects (which I will discuss in next week’s blog post). Having said this, technological singularity and “The Frankenstein Complex” are both issues that stand out from an ethical perspective and are issues that continue to divide.

References

McCauley, L. 2007, “The Frankenstein Complex and Asimov’s three laws”, AAAI Workshop – Technical Report, pgs. 9-14

Walker, P & Lovat T 2014, ‘ You say morals, I say ethics – what’s the difference?’, The Conversation, September 18th, viewed 19th April 2016, <http://theconversation.com/you-say-morals-i-say-ethics-whats-the-difference-30913&gt;

Weird Fiction and the Visual

> Notes on Writing Weird Fiction

Weird fiction is, at its core, playing on our deep fear of the unknown. When Lovecraft’s characters encounter an impossibility, language is used to weave around the subject – leaving the thing itself indescribable. My project, a Lovecraft/Cyberpunk comic with accompanying transmedia components, relies on the visual. However, to represent something visually is to give the audience knowledge of the thing. A direct visual representation provides the subject with a solid, understandable form, thus diminishing its effect. My task is to reconcile this.

I’ve enlisted the help of Lovecraft himself with this task, in a sense. Through consultation of his essay, Notes on Writing Weird Fiction, I’ve identified the key

> The Power of the Visual

“My reason for writing stories is to give myself the satisfaction of visualising more clearly and detailedly and stably the vague, elusive, fragmentary impressions of wonder, beauty, and adventurous expectancy which are conveyed to me by certain sights (scenic, architectural, atmospheric, etc.), ideas, occurrences, and images encountered in art and literature.”

H. P. Lovecraft in T. Joshi 1995, ‘Notes on Writing Weird Fiction’

Here is my  Lovecraft uses careful language to describe a feeling or atmosphere that is often based on something visual. I want to evoke this.

The Power of Visual Material: Persuasion, Emotion and Identification (Joffe, H 2008) describes disgust as one of the most powerful tools in a visual work’s arsenal for the strong reactions it evokes. This is also something I’ve noticed in my perusal of other Lovecraftian comics – disgusting imagery is used as a shortcut to building a fearful atmosphere.

If a stone is thrown into a pond, you understand what created the ripples. But if all you see are the ripples, you’re left wondering if it were a stone after all. Maybe a fish? Did it come from above the water or below the surface? Or was the water disturbed by a deep shudder in the earth below it?

Original Post on Data Eater Blog: Weird Fiction and the Visual

Taylor Swift and Streaming Music

I’m just going to put it out there, but I can’t stand Taylor Swift. (Was it just me who cringed at Beats 1 Radio’s latest ad featuring T Swizzle herself?) I remember one day when I was going through my daily Buzzfeed read and saw  “Taylor Swift Just Removed Her Albums From Spotify.” Being the curious cat that I am, I read the article. There were mixed emotions from people praising her decision to others being utterly heartbroken. It was later noted that she decided to not stream her latest album 1989 on Apple Music (not to worry you loyal Swifties, the beef has been cleared). This got me thinking: how much do artists actually get paid over streaming sites like Spotify and Apple Music?

I came across a rather interesting article from Dredge (2015) about how much musicians actually make on streaming services like Spotify, iTunes, and Tidal. All of the statistics apply only to performing musicians, but don’t cover publishing royalties. Another factor that plays into these statistics is how much an “artist signed to a label earns.” Finally, the per-play figures depend on many users the service has. Here are some facts and figures I found interesting. There’s a lot of information, so bare with me:

  • iTunes purchase
    • signed artist album download
      • average retail price: $9.99
      • for a solo artist to earn the U.S. monthly minimum wage ($1,260) he/she must sell 547 units
      • % cut
        • distributor: 30
        • label: 47
        • artist: 23
      • artist revenue: $2.30
  • Spotify stream
    • Signed artist
      • # of plays needed to reach U.S. monthly min. wage: 1,117,021
      • % of users to hit min. wage: 2%
      • artist revenue: $0.0011

For an unsigned artist, the numbers are pretty different in all categories. Here’s the link to the article and wonderful infograph that precedes it if you’re curious to see the figures. So was Taylor right on pulling her music from Spotify? Some say that she was, others say that it was a pointless decision.

I’m hoping to address this topic and others like it in my research report. My idea is to break down my report by categories. Like my previous blog posts, I will talk about the album, CD, and mixtape/playlist. But I will also touch on topics such as the significance of the vinyl record, how the iPod changed the game for music listeners, and digital downloads/streaming. Within each topic, I will bring up questions and points about how new technology and the Internet has shaped/changed it.

 

References:

Dredge, S 2015, How much do musicians really make from Spotify, iTunes, and Youtube?, The Guardian, viewed 17 April 2016,<https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/apr/03/how-much-musicians-make-spotify-itunes-youtube&gt;

I Still Make Mixtapes (CDs), Does That Mean I’m Outdated?

This past Christmas I gave my college roommate a mix CD with all of the songs that we jammed out to in the past semester. It was a beautiful mix of catchy pop tunes, rap songs (the ones that I would blast and she would awkwardly try to dance to), and a couple of Nickelback songs. Don’t ask me why, as I’m still trying to understand why she likes Nickelback as well. Point being, I like making mixtapes. There has never been a time in my life where sent someone a playlist via Spotify or 8tracks. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I like having to take the disc out of its case and pop it into my laptop/car CD drive/CD player. But the world doesn’t revolve around me and it’s becoming more popular to ditch the mixtape* and to create digital playlists.

I think the transition from making your own mixtapes/CDs happened when we were introduced to the mp3 player and its shuffle function. This new technology let us listen to our music without feeling like we were overplaying or over-listening to it (Brown & Knox 2014). Now services like Spotify are on the rise. It’s much easier and faster to gain a wide range of genres of music than it was in the past. Spotify is not just a place to listen to music, but it is a social network. You create playlists and you can share them with your friends, or people can follow your playlists. But what gets me is that with Spotify you can create a playlist, throw in a bunch of songs that you like, and then hit shuffle. You can even put multiple playlists in a folder to create a combined-genre/mood playlist. With the mixtape, you have to listen to the possible songs that go on the tape or CD; once you have your set songs, you then have carefully compile them in the order or play (Skågeby 2011 pg. 14). To me, that seems more intimate and personal than getting a notification that someone sent you a playlist.

Which brings me to my next point, according to Brown and Knox (2016) “A quarter of all songs listened to on Spotify are also skipped in the first five seconds (Guardian Music, 2014), which highlights that consumers are not simply listening to anything.” Let me repeat that. Consumers are not simply listening to anything. That leads me to wonder, if our modern day technology is supposed to make our lives easier/enhance our thinking/listening/seeing experiences, then how come we’re “not listening to anything”? We’re listening to fives seconds of this and five seconds of that until we reach a song that we can sit through its entirety. I admit I’m one of those people who will skip to the next song within the first one to two seconds of a song if I’m not feelin’ the vibe. It may seem like I’m bashing Spotify and the playlist, but I’m not. I use Spotify all of the time! But after reading that quote, it made me really think. Compared to the mixtape, the playlist seems like some cold-stone product of our “creativity.” Now I may be digging my own grave here, but anyone can throw some songs in a playlist and hit shuffle. There’s no craft to that! With the mixtape, you have to carefully plan out the songs, the tracklist, the mood/vibe of the mix. There’s more thought/feeling/time that goes into a mixtape than a playlist.

Our society is so go, go, go. We don’t really take the time anymore to actually take in our surroundings and fully appreciate them. This can be said the same thing with music and the playlist. We moved from carefully choosing the right music to go on a cassette or CD to hitting the shuffle button. So maybe we should try to retract from our fast-paced, plugged in culture at least once and dig out our blank CDs/cassette tapes and make a mixtape…

*Let me just clear this up now: there are two different uses of a “mixtape”. There’s the home-compilation of songs that are put onto a cassette tape or CD. Then there’s the “mixtape” that many hip-hop artists use as a “promotional tool packed with exclusive freestyles to an actual album-before-the-album…without labels at the helm” (Horowitz 2011). Just the other night I downloaded Chance the Rapper’s Acid Rap and on April 1st, Hamburger Helper (an American packaged food product of General Mills) dropped their five-track mixtape on Soundcloud. For this post, I will be focusing on the first use of the mixtape.

 

 

References:

Brown, S.C. and Knox, D., 2016. Why buy an album? The motivations behind recorded music purchases. Psychomusicology: Music, Mind, and Brain26(1), p.79-86.

Horowitz, S 2011, The Economy of Mixtapes: How Drake, Wiz Khalifa, Big K.R.I.T Figured It Out (Listen), Billboard, viewed 5 April 2016 http://www.billboard.com/biz/articles/news/1168371/the-economy-of-mixtapes-how-drake-wiz-khalifa-big-krit-figured-it-out

Skågeby, J 2011, Slow and fast music media: comparing values of cassettes and playlists, Transformations Journal of Media and Culture, p.14, viewed 5 April 2016

Cyberpunk and Design Fiction – A way to explore imagined technologies.

As I am aiming to create a virtual storefront for imagined objects within Cyberpunk texts, it’s important to have a clear definition of the Cybercultural elements I will be looking to explore in depth.

Firstly and most importantly, I must define what a Cyberpunk text is.

Cyberpunk:

While rather lengthy I feel Erich Schneider perfectly explains Cyberpunk:

 “Cyberpunk literature, in general, deals with marginalized people in technologically-enhanced cultural ‘systems’. In cyberpunk stories’ settings, there is usually a ‘system’ which dominates the lives of most ‘ordinary’ people, be it an oppressive government, a group of large, paternalistic corporations, or a fundamentalist religion. These systems are enhanced by certain technologies (today advancing at a rate that is bewildering to most people), particularly ‘information technology’ (computers, the mass media), making the system better at keeping those within it inside it. Often this technological system extends into its human ‘components’ as well, via brain implants, prosthetic limbs, cloned or genetically engineered organs, etc. Humans themselves become part of ‘the Machine’. This is the ‘cyber’ aspect of cyberpunk. However, in any cultural system, there are always those who live on its margins, on ‘the Edge’: criminals, outcasts, visionaries, or those who simply want freedom for its own sake. Cyberpunk literature focuses on these people, and often on how they turn the system’s technological tools to their own ends. This is the ‘punk’ aspect of cyberpunk.”

 

Cyberpunk is known as ‘Hard Science Fiction’, due to the strong reliance on science and technology. Cyberpunk breaks down the separation between the organic and the artificial, or, between the human and the machine. They often focus on how technology has resulted in a dystopian society.

cyberpunk_20somethin_by_nathantwist

Jon Turney discusses the influence of Science Fiction on the trajectory of technological development in his paper ‘Imagining technology’ (2013). This piece of work is fundamental to my research, at least in these early stages. Turney (2013 p. 8) states that Science Fiction “is an important arena for imagining the effects of technologies, existing and yet to come. Its imagined worlds are ones in which life is enabled or constrained by technologies in ways we have not yet seen in our world. Whether we do see them realised may then be influenced by the role technologies play in these alternate realities.” Therefore, Cyberpunk is a cultural response used for exploring technologies that have led to, or that are within, the previously mentioned dystopian society.

This brings me to the technological objects within these texts, specifically, the ones I will be analysing. What makes an object Cyberpunk technology?

The ‘Novum’:

Turney explains a key feature in Science Fiction texts. Most stories have a ‘novum’ – “a feature which defines a key difference between the reader’s everyday world and the world being portrayed” (Turney 2013 p. 7). The novum is usually technological, the most common tropes of science fiction texts are that of tools and machines , such as computers, virtual reality, robots and spaceships.
It is therefore important that my imagined objects or, ‘novum’s’, explore the implications of technology on the world.

maxresdefault

Hence, Cyberpunk is a literary genre used to explore the relationship between organic humans and artificial technologies and the resulting effects on the world.

It is these technologies that I will be pulling out of their texts and exploring their historical, societal and contextual backgrounds.

Design Fiction:

Whilst not exactly Cyberpunk, or even Science Fiction, Design Fiction may still be of value to my project. Design Fiction is an interesting attempt to explore technological possibilities of the near future. Void of the drama and stories of Science Fiction literature, Design fiction is generally a conversational piece that conveys “the kinds of experiences that might surround the designed object” (Turney 2013 p. 41). Design Fiction is the result of our knowledge of how stories influence cultural mentalities towards new technologies. As Turney (2013 p. 43) puts it, “The story we are telling ourselves about the relation between imagination and technology is changing, and so the way we try and tell stories about technology is changing, too.” Design fiction could be seen as a new way for promoting technological advancements and discussion of possible futures.

Design Fiction projects

References:

  1. Turney, J 2013, ‘Imagining technology’, Nesta Working Paper, No, 13/06, viewed 5 April 2016, <https://www.nesta.org.uk/sites/default/files/imagining_technology.pdf&gt;