Notes from today thanks to John O’Shea – cheers, because it’s hard for me to blog while I speak!
Theoretical Foundations 001: Atau Tanaka
Wednesday 7th October 2009
Slides from today’s lecture: why-theory200910.pdf
- Outline of syllabus
- By the end of this module students will…
technological and cultural background
advantages and disadvantages of digital media production methods
not pure positivism
New Philosophy for New Media, Mark Hansen
The Language of New Media, Lev Manovich
Draw upon theory – inform practice
- history of theory
- determinism vs. culturalism
cultural theory?… scientific theory?…
Theory and practice
- community – What characterises a community?
- group of people?… shared goals
- participation – work, system, platform
Way of seeing the world in which appearances are not taken for granted.
- what the nature of ‘something’ might be
terms on which questions are asked
way in which language shape these questions
humans, thinking feeling subjects, intervene in the flow of meaning
deeper questions – not just technologies for own sake
And why Theory?
Approach: work does not exist in isolation vs. romantic notion of artist genius without need for context
Requirement: test of concept, ideas, assumptions, practices and (unconscious) idealogical position (against others)
Theory is a kind of technology?
Open ended (not deterministic)
non-linear, playful modes of enquiry
Arts, Humanities, & Social Sciences
- Post-modernism, Post-structuralism
Materialism vs. Idealism
- can there be a theory of matter?
Some Theories of Technology:
Sherry Turkle (M.I.T. initiative on Technology and Self)
- ‘nonunitary selves’ (critique of modernist unitary self) – ‘distributed self’
- ‘subjective side’ of people’s relationships with technology
(Speed and Politics 1977) Velocity : War
- Tech creates speed (Velocity)
- availability of info
- cycle production consumption
- confinement, incarceration
- threatens writer, author (taking time to think)
- technology makes us shallow
Atau “If we just go to Dixons and use up the next memory stick or whatever then there is a risk that technology makes us shallow…”
- paradox – ‘are we everywhere or are we nowhere?’
- globalisation – loss of rights and of democracy
- McLuhan’s global village might be nothing more than a world ghetto
Main tenets (labels) of recent approaches:
(using outmoded cyber ‘from cyborg’)
- celebratory ‘cyber-romantics’
- ambivalent ‘cyber-skeptics’
- Or hostile ‘luddites’ or ‘nostalgics’
cyborg = cyber-netic organism
How does digital technology change oue imagination? (of the body?)
What does distributed and distributing technologies do to human agency?
Differing levels of access – new class system? Digital aristocracy?
How do the ways we talk about technology shape the way we use it? Are we prisoners of our own metaphors?
Is it different from cultural theory? Can they co-exist?
Practice Based Research: …finding out… verification… ‘adding to the body of knowledge’… process (method)
Theory becomes a form of Practice
not influenced by personal feelings
emotion, intuition, feeling, self
dependent on individual perception
Scientific Process/Method – Proof
- hypothesis – operating principle
- observed phenomena
- empirical (internal logic)
- observing natural state
- perturbing status quo
- re-observing result (causal)
Descartes – “Discourse on Method” (1637)
- perception is unreliable, deduction as a method
- skepticism of ‘external world’
- mind/body dualism
Own experience –> what do you see
Conjecture —> hazard an explanation
Predict —> consequences of perturbation
Test —> Is your prediction confirmed?
Hypothesis – Theory – Proof
(In science) Theory = testable model which supports experiment in theory?
Atau “Can’t solve all of the world’s problems with single theory…”
In practical (making) terms:
approach compartmentalise problems and build different working modules
Scientific method does not involve feelings so… Is Theory Fact?
Is ‘objective’ = ‘truth’?
Testing to disprove.
If a theory can be proven it can be disproven…
All theories are just a PROPOSAL of HOW THE WORLD WORKS
Science is not FACTUAL
PROCESS open to other interpretations
OBJECTIVITY can be open and open-ended
Scientific theory can seem dry BUT:
- very useful in technology development
- ways we observe people (users)