Friday, November 12, 2004

The End of the Course as we know it...

Okay, the major essays are all marked and can be collected from me in room G.07. I'll be in my office most of next week (Nov 15th - 19th), so please do come and pick your essays up.

Also, can I take this opportunity to thank you all: firstly, for your reflective posts which will be very useful in evaluating the course (and thanks for the kinds words about your tutor, too!); and, secondly, and most importantly, can I thank you all for your participation in the many facets of Self.Net. It has been a real pleasure running this course and being your tutor and participating in some fascinating conversations about all things digital which, I'm sure, will continue long after the course has faded in your memories!

I hope your increased critical awareness of digital culture serves you all well in the future, and with any luck I'll see a number of you in other courses, or doing Honours (since so many of you are writing at a level which would see you do very well in an honours program).

Byebye.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

reflective post

I think the use of weblogs for leaning purposes, are excellent. They are a very efficient and effective way to communicate. I like the fact that we can access our classmates work and read their opinions. Unlike the discussions in tutorials, the weblog system provides are record of opinions so students can revisit the discussions. The only criticism I have, is that whenever I clicked on the 'publish post' button the next page could not be displayed and I lost all my text. I had to copy my work each time to prevent losing it, but it was quite annoying when I forgot to.

Am I a cyborg? No I don't think I am. I am not 'totally' dependent on technology. I believe I could survive in the wilderness with only natural tools, however I guess my knowledge on how to survive involves using technology to create weapons, shelter etc. Depending on which definition one uses to define a cyborg, I may be considered one, however in my own eyes I’m not.

The aspect I liked most about the course, was the variety of teaching methods. As opposed to the standard two lectures and a tutorial, I enjoyed the lecture, the interactive workshop and the tutorials. The use of weblog as described earlier was also very effective.

Friday, October 29, 2004

reflections

I think the use of weblogs was a good idea. I had never used one before, and as such did not really understand them for the first few weeks. However, once I got the hang of it, I found it very beneficial as I was able to read other peoples takes on particular articles, as well as the workshop responses. The only criticism I have about the weblogs is that it often became quite difficult to find particular posts, especially after a designated workshop response.

I agreed with Haraway’s assertion from the beginning of the unit, and still do. I think, as other people have suggested on here, that a lot of the resistance to accept the notion of being a cyborg is the negative connotations associated with the word ‘cyborg’. It seems to apply a loss of humanity, or a dominance of technology, that would likely unnerve many people.

This unit was interesting and unlike any English unit I have done at uni. I like the way the course was divided into sub-sections, all of which complimented each other. Workshops also encouraged participation and therefore a greater involvement in the unit.

Thanks!

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Reflections -To blog or not to blog

This unit has proven to be the most controversial and yet stimulating module of this semester. Initially, the segment on Haraway's cyborg manifesto and the cybernetic theories made me feel like i was in a parallel universe and that my fate in this unit was to be a doomed one. However, as I started to grapple with the various ideas and concepts that were discussed I realised that it is more relevant than i thought it would be.
The Blogging process was a significant element in my learning journey in this course. I definitely feel that it complimented tutorials and workshops and it gave me a space to read, reflect and analyse the issues that were debated on, in my own time. I also learnt a great deal through the blog entires, as they exposed me to a variety of opinions and beliefs. "Tuesday 2pm" soon became a new community that i became familiar with. Strangely, i'm still unsure of some online identities(i.e. Im not sure who's who) and perhaps i have been treating them seperately from their offline idenities.

Well, at the start of this course I though i was a full fledged cyborg in compliance to Haraway's description. I am in every way intertwined with technology, ranging from the withdrawal effects I get when the tv is off or my genuine hysteria when the internet connection suddenly ceases. However, as many of us are, I am still uncomfortable with the implications of being a cyborg as it implies a certain degree of detachment from being "natural" and perhaps this synthetic dependence makes us vulnerable. I would rather view us as human beings who are thriving in an era which requires us to learn and pick up the technological skills we know in order to live comfortably and efficiently.

On hindsight, this unit was an enjoyable one with a good mix of academia, current affairs and interactive engagement. To everyone in the tute, you guys were great fun!:)

Reflections

I found this unit really interesting in the way it promblematised the differences between the virtual and real and what happens to things like identity, the body and ethics in the movement from one to the other. Personally, I always thought of the virtual world and digital technology as a mere extension of what already exists and therefore never questioned differences between the two spheres. Before this unit I was unaware of what a blog was and although I was familiar with Haraway's cyborg manifesto, never analysed so carefully with both the past and present involved, rather locating it as a future possibility.
The blog, whilst useful and a relevant way of communicating for the unit, is not my ideal mode of communication as I prefer face-to-face interaction, however, it was convenient and complementary to the course. The unit has presented a number of very thought-provoking ideas that have caused me to view technology and digital media in a new light.

post-self.net perspectives

I must admit that at the very beginning of this unit, I was not at all receptive to the idea of being a cyborg. It was a bit daunting to have Haraway as the very first reading for the unit although now, via the power of retrospect, I realise that her manifesto for cyborgs, as well as the other related ideologies that we have come across in the duration of this unit set the foundation for the framework of what this course aims to teach: communicating identity in the digital age. If one does not learn to embrace the idea that technology and the self are virtually (and in many ways) invisibly intertwined in this present age, there would be no point in studying the effects/impact that the Internet and digital technologies have on people's lives, because to begin with we cannot accept, admit, or reconcile ourselves to the idea that a lot of what we do/talk about/use concerns a great deal of the Internet and technology.. so if we cannot fulfil the latter, we are greatly limiting our understanding of our identities for what they are in this millenium. Therefore, I am now receptive of the idea that I am a cyborg, simply because it helps me to better understand my dependency on technology as well as question why i have this dependency/ies and whether it is for the better or ill of my being.

As low as my participation has been in this weblog, I sincerely appreciate the use of it in this unit because by using a weblog, we are in effect practicing the fundamentals of what we have learned in this unit; how we use the Internet to communicate with others, and at the same time interact with technology. And I have gained a new perspective and a rekindled fascination/passion for blogging; i think that its awesome that bloggers are empowered through what they write, and have the ability to improve the world through their writing!:-)

Yep... and now i shall get back to doing my essay for this unit. All the best for everyone's exams!

Friday, October 22, 2004

I think the use of weblogs in this unit was great. They created a connection between students and allowed for interaction of student perspectives and insights in regard to course material, in more depth than that given in tutorials. I think that having to publish posts forced you to further analyse materials, more so than what is required for tutes, and a benefit of the weblogs was that you could publish your posts in your own time, when you felt like it, and without the formality needed in an essay.

At the beginning of this course I did not regard myself as being a cyborg, but as the course progressed I realised that I definitely am. This view was further cemented by the matrix clip, which portrays our own dependence and integration with technology. Whether we have always been cyborgs since man first started to use tools, or whether we only constituted cyborgs once we realised that we were cyborgs, under Haraway’s definition of a cybernetic organism, “a hybrid of machine and organism, a creature of social reality as well as a creature of fiction”, I am a cyborg. As to how much of a cyborg I am, I don’t know, and whether I’ll be defined as more of a cyborg in the future as technology advances and I become more integrated with it, I’m not really sure about either.

What I liked about this course was that it analysed current issues that are very relevant in today’s society, and seems to be emerging as a relatively new and interesting area of study.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Reflective Post

The experience of weblogs have been interesting. As a learning tool, it allowed transparency during academic studies and the sharing of info. Reading what other found regarding the same essay question helped as i could tell where i went wrong and learn about new stuff and different perspectives. It even had a somewhat relaxed learning environment; hey it beats reading tonnes of books with no feedback :P

I do believe now that i'm a cyborg, but i say that with caution and not total belief. The issue is still in contention and the abstraction of meaning requires construction first. But perhaps that is also what i felt best about the course, it explored and challenged traditional assumptions that i made and brought on new knowledge and perspectives, irregardless of whether these new concepts were accepted by the individual or not.

Reflective Post

Prior to this unit I had never paid attention to weblogs. After using the weblog I still won't pay much attention to blogs, it didn’t help with my learning. I learnt more from tutorials because I attended them, whereas for weblogs apart from making mandatory posts I didn’t bother to use them on a regular basis.

After all that we’ve read about cyborgs, from Haraway’s definition it is impossible not to be one. Initially the thought of being a cyborg was ridiculous, but over time I’ve come to accept the concept and since I rely on glasses for better vision, then yes call me a cyborg. People have integrated a variety of technology up to the point where they cannot seem to cope without it.

What I liked about the course were the readings and the many issues we covered, each week brought something new. Conversely the readings at the beginning of the course were very dense and required a lot of time to understand.

reflective post

Weblogs are a great way of getting to know other students ideas that don’t necessarily come across in tutorials. It was also really interesting and helpful to see the ways other students responded to the webliography questions – particularly those who answered the same question. Providing comments was difficult to do, but it makes you think again about the issues under consideration and definitely broadens your thinking on the topic. Having comments from other people was also really interesting and encouraging.

I consider myself a cyborg in that technology is part of my everyday life. But in recognizing this, I don’t think it has made any great difference to how I interact with the world. I see the internet as a useful tool, rather than a utopian space for a new world order.

The course was really challenging, particularly in relation to creating our own posts, but this made it more rewarding and it will definitely help in other areas of study as well. The only problem for me was that the posts generally required quite a bit of work and I’m not sure if this is reflected well in the assessment.

Friday, October 15, 2004

politics of playing workshop response

1. The games would communicate effectively to players who came across them due to their political content. I don't believe the games are the most effective means of promoting a message or a cause as once you start to play the meaning behind the game loses importance to the outcome. For example the 'New York Defender' game initially grabs your attention and leaves you shocked and horrified but as you engage in play the context becomes less relevant than the outcome of 'winning'.

2. The two games I attempted to play (I'm shocking at video games) were 'New York Defender' and 'Donkey John'. The political message for both was fairly obvious as the game began and I did find it a clever and inventive way of promoting a message. As both issues presented are fairly current in the media, and I am aware of both, I was not driven to investigate further (than was necessary for the workshop!). The political simulation games clearly presented their causes which I believe is necessary in this type of media arena in order to not lose people to just playing the game, and rather capturing people who will think further about the cause presented.

3. The political message on which I would base a game would be to do with the Intifada in Israel, and the devastation of suicide bombers. The game would follow a structure of 'how to avoid the suicide bomber' and would give the player the option of where to go - the shops, a bus, drive, walk down the street or stay home. Every time the player chose a place to put their character a suicide bomber would come and kill them. The player would not be able to 'win' the game.

Playing Politics Workshop Response

1)I examined September 12 and New York Defender and believe these games to be ‘effective’ if the players on the internet have adequate knowledge on the war on terror and its implications, namely the September 11 incident and its aftermath. However, its effectiveness may be lessened after playing it several times as one becomes desensitised to the message it might be conveying. I felt my experience was enhanced by the readings that accompanied both games as it gave me a clearer understanding of the political innuendos and messages. Without them I would be deciphering the game and its messages according to my own understanding. Also, the degree of effectiveness may be down played as many would view it as merely an intellectual and thought-provoking game with no lasting effects.

2)After examining September 12, I felt that the intention of the game seemed to show the inevitable lost of civilians in attempt to sieve-out and destroy the terrorist. I also observed that the people morning for the dead civilians transformed into terrorists in the next instance, further increasing the numbers. This struck me as it clearly represented the grievance and bitterness of the victims of war having lost family and friends innocently, and some opting to join forces with the terrorist in revenge. This portrayed the cyclical nature of destruction in war as what ever good intent that the U.S government has seems futile under such circumstances. The news release reiterated my impressions of the game and gave further understanding of the flaws of the current anti terrorist tactics and measures.

I also played New York defender and was initially rather pleased with my “accurate” shootings, however, as the terrorist planes increased in frequency I found myself frantically shooting and a sense of hopelessness and panic emerged and increased till the game finally ended. I guessed that the sense of helplessness was somewhat representative of the helplessness that the people in New York and victims of terrorist acts might have experienced and how it seems impossible to be prepared for it all. The same sense of futility prevails with the number of martyrs and terrorists on the rise and the unceasing threats and kidnappings occurring today.

3)I would like to have a political simulation representing the futility of voicing political views about the state in countries where the people's voices are very repressed. For my safety, I will not mention the country(s) I might be referring to:) In this simulation, each time a person speaks up (in the form of word bubbles) he either gets taken away by some secret police or is thrown into exile. The player should then aim to shoot as many word bubbles into boxes labelled “propaganda” while dodging the police. The end result will be a no-win scenario.