Week 10

The Generosity of New Media

The below article that I found while researching this topic, discusses the reflections on the Oxford smartphone symposium. A new technology and how it changes/improves our engagement with nature through the collection and organisation of data.

New Technology and our Engagement with Nature

It’s an interesting example of how new technologies might enhance biodiversity conservation. It has quite the positive connotations while discussing the hybrid notion of the natural being intertwined with the technological or in other words, the un-natural.

The same cannot be said about notions concerning the same hybridity used to create human like androids/robots. These kind of ecologies carry a more mixed set of feelings and opinions in terms of the effect it has or will have on us in the future.

So why do we feel this way about robots who imitate the living?

In this film nature serves as a form of inspiration for scientists building robots to imitate living things.

Note: Please disregard the video from 4:20min and onwards.

In terms of assemblages, the actors that are present in these assemblages (eg. the scientists, the technology they use,etc.) are all vital in creating a machinic version of the natural. In a way, the negative feelings stem from fear that we will be replaced by our technological counter parts. This could well be a possibility some time in the future.

The forgotten dead – Data visualisation

When thinking about how new media and media technologies influence culture, I came to think about current issues in Australian societies. The Iraq War has been ongoing for over 7 years. We’ve recently had 3 Australian casualties that have received a chunk of media attention over the past two weeks. However, there are hundreds of such cases that remain unpublished and/or unreported; thousands of missing people and uncounted family members have been statistically forgotten.

Visualization offers a method for seeing the unseen.  It enriches the process of discovery and fosters profound and unexpected insights into, in this case, unreported casualties throughout the duration of the Iraqi war. Visualisation is the practice of mapping data to visual form. It supports the notion of exploration and analysis while also visually presenting the raw data that has been collected.

Why is visualization important? 

Computer systems generate and store massive and growing amounts of data. At the same time, advanced networks, distributed processing, and other media related developments allow unprecedented access to data. Data visualization offers one way to harness this infrastructure to find trends and correlations that  can lead to important discoveries that can influence a society and way of thinking.

Representing large amounts of disparate information in a visual form often allows you to see patterns that would otherwise be buried in vast, unconnected data sets. As opposed to the traditional hypothesis-and-test method of inquiry, which relies on asking the right questions, data visualizations bring themes and ideas to the surface, where they can be easily discerned. Visualizations allow you to understand and process enormous amounts of information quickly because it is all represented in a single image or animation. Moreover, virtually any kind of data from a broad range of academic disciplines can be represented visually, making data visualization a potentially valuable approach to learning for a large number of students and researchers.

This visualisation is based off different figures found from various sources. While originally it was predicted to show causality rates from sources like Wiki Leaks to be much higher, once the data was collected and analyzed, it actually showcased the large disparity between the casualty rates of both USA and the Iraqi forces and civilians.

Visualizing the Wikileak’s War Logs

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