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  • mono 12:20 pm on April 4, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Data Portability, , Flickr, Fragmentation, Interface Humanities, Labyrinthine Self, , Mash-Up, , , , , socialnetworks, TechCrunch,   

    A Messy Marco-Analysis of Social Media: The Labyrinthine Self 

    An example of a social network diagram.Image from WikipediaThe following is a messy macro-analysis of social media and I hope to elucidate these ideas in the coming weeks. Please bear with me. Also, if you have spent time with what is talked about here, please get in touch, suggest links, propose theories, probes, ideas, etc. I support fragmentation.

    It seems that the decentralization of the self across a number of social networking sites multiplies and fragments the self while creating what I want to call: the labyrinthine self. A definition of the labyrinthine self could be: the self that is created from the decentralization of one’s identity through the fragmentation of one’s knowledge-networks as existing within various social media platforms.

    An easy-to-understand example could be: one creates a Myspace page as a “Film Director,” one then creates a Youtube page as a “Film Director,” in order to extend one’s knowledge-network. In addition, to represent one’s “private” self, one joins Facebook to reconnect with old friends. In order to keep the world updated instantly, a Twitter feed is created, a “film blog” at typepad and finally a Secondlife character is designed in order to further spread one’s “films” or simply just to connect via the virtual world (with other Lindens). In doing this, one has essentially and willingly created the labyrinthine self, that is one’s self has extended to the extent that it has become impossible to fully keep track of and be in control of one’s own knowledge-network. In addition, the self in seeing itself existing across these platforms becomes fragmented. Data that is shared on Facebook is not shared on Twitter or Secondlife and so on. Moreover, even with sites that work to centralize one’s self (Friendfeed), I still see the labyrinthinization of the self. That is to say, even in the centralized space of Friendfeed, there is still a reliance on the labyrinth that one has created or that one is feeding off of. That is, what is Friendfeed apart from the decentralized sites that it allows one to share? Moreover, if anything Friendfeed sustains the fragmented self by willfully encouraging one to put back the puzzle of one’s social media existence.

    Then, there is “data portability,” which is the sharing of data across time-space. This means, jumping from node to node along the labyrinthine tunnel, consciously decentralizing oneself, while maintaining one identity, perhaps something like a “master password.” In this way, one jumps from room to room – different rooms are experienced, but you are still you, fragmented nonetheless.

    Within both of these examples is the unfolding of one’s knowledge-network and, moreover, the ability for one’s data to float through that network into a hither unknown area only to be re-appropriated by another person. That is to say, the “mash-up” trend in blogging. “Mash-up” is the conjoining of two or more things to create something new. It is kind of like cooking. If I mix one part “silly pet video from Youtube,” one part “crazy New York party pics from Flickr” and one part “book review from my favorite blog,” I create a new way of visualizing and interpreting the data, due to the unique context that I created. This leads to what we could even call “the mish-mash self,” the self that appropriates online symbols (images, music files, viral videos, photographs) and uses them to represent one’s self. In a way, this blog represents facets of my labyrinthine self and my mish-mash self. That is to say, one’s blog is a space where one, through the “mashing” of one’s favorite media, creates a new space, a new context from which to view the data.

    Questions for Consideration:

    How is the virtual representation of your identity transformed by your use of social networking sites?
    How deep does your knowledge-network go?
    Do you think that a centralized social media site will fulfill your social media desires? That is, do you prefer centralization or decentralization? What is the relationship of centralization and decentralization in sites like Myspace or Friendfeed?
    Where does Secondlife exist in all of this?

    The article that you have just read was inspired by and relates to: This blog
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  • mono 1:12 pm on April 3, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Asset Tracking, , CHIKUMA Ltd., , Interface Humanities, , , Media Uniforms, , RFID, , , Tommy Lee Jones   

    Media Uniforms and RFID Tags: The Future of Japanese Wearable Technology? (Interface Humanities) 

    Hand with the planned location of the RFID chipImage from WikipediaThe study of Interface Humanities is a form of study introduced by Osaka University president and published philosopher, Kiyokazu Washida among others. The basis behind Interface Humanities seems to be the study of our use of interfaces and how they redefine “self” and “other.” Moreover, I think it can be the study and criticism of our uses of these interfaces, technological critiques and ethical considerations. It is sad that most of the research done in Japan has not been translated into English. However, there is a relevant online journal with both English and Japanese called “Nature Interface,” which can be found here: Nature Interface. Given time, I will do my best to translate some Japanese articles into English. Today, I will be briefly talking about wearable technology as presented in an issue of “Nature Interface.”

    The article that I read discusses the idea of “Media Uniforms,” which are uniforms with wearable computers or displays such as ID tags or RFID (Radio Frequency Identification). The article seems to take a very innocent and positive approach to the idea of “wearable interfaces” and provides no critique of its possible harmful consequences.

    The first point made in the article is the gap between engineers and fashion designers, that is, the lack of a strong fashion point in the marketing of the computerized clothing. They seem to be suggesting that given the support of a good designer, the idea of wearable technology would become more appealing to youth culture. It doesn’t seem to hard to imagine wearable-computerized interfaces spreading through Tokyo.

    Second, the idea that “RFID Tags Can Make Management Easier” is brought up. That is, the company that is being talked about in the article (CHIKUMA Ltd.) state that they recycle old uniforms using them to experiment with and/or transform them into usable material for projects in different fields (as they say: acoustic and heat insulators). Also, with the implementation of RFID tags, the person who disposes of a certain piece of clothing can be tracked and an evaluation of the disposal method can be made in accord with environmental concerns. In this way, they are apparently promoting responsibility and environmental care. It should be noted that they are apparently not talking about one’s personal clothing, but with uniforms, perhaps owned by a company (i.e. the disposal and re-use of a security uniform would be monitored).

    The third point made in the article is the idea of “Uniforms with Real-Time Advertisement Display.” For example, Tommy Lee Jones recently did an advertising campaign here in Japan for BOSS can coffee. Imagine, you go to the convenience store and buy a can of BOSS coffee. Upon checking out, your can is scanned and lo-and-behold, on the chest of the part-time high school student working behind the counter, a computerized screen turns on and there is Tommy Lee’s smiling face thanking you for buying the coffee. Or, as is suggested in the article, upon renting a certain DVD, when scanned, a transmission is sent from a computer in the rental shop to your wearable interface giving you a free movie preview of an upcoming film by the same company that funded the film that you just rented.

    In this way, CHIKUMA Ltd. is wishing to pave the way for a new form of wearable-computerized advertising technology. Instead of the static print advertisement, a moving full-color interactive wearable-computerized advertisement, portable and perhaps personalized to your consumer habits. What interests me is this positive approach to this article gives no form of criticism or concerns. Perhaps, if I read deeper into “Nature Interface,” I will find some answers, but for now I will have to create some probes of my own.

    The idea of a track-able and monitored uniform further fragments the self while obliterating personal privacy. Not to mention, viral attacks, system errors or identity theft come to mind as valid possible problems. Moreover, how is the experience of self and other affected by this intrusion of privacy? With the RTAD, what possible consequences do you see? Could someone not perhaps track one’s consumer habits, store those habits while using them to collect data? Does this not already happen in our internet shopping experience? Furthermore, what are hegemonic consequences of what gets advertised and what doesn’t? What happens to the smaller companies with no capital to push their products on the wearable advertising market? I think that, being the visually minded creatures that we are, there is something much more alluring about a moving display as opposed to a static T-shirt advertisement. That is to say, there is a big difference between wearing a T-shirt of the band U2 and having one of their music videos being played on your wearable uniform? I can just imagine a store clerk at a corporate music store having to wear a uniform with an increasingly annoying two minute loop of “new and hot releases.”

    I am an amateur when it comes to examining RFID tags. If you wish to share links, please do. Thank you for reading. The original article that I dissected today can be found here: Case Study: From Japan – Wearable Computers That Have Started to Approach Our Daily Life

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