Digital Environments

Week3 - 24 October 2008

notes and links from the session

This week was a wide ranging discussion about the issues raised by Manovich in his essay 'The Practice of Everyday (Media) Life'.

Firstly was a clarification about Michel de Certeau's idea of 'strategy' and 'tactic' in his book The practice of Everyday Life.

This is a quote from Manovich that helps explain 'strategy' and 'tactic':

De Certeau makes a distinction between “strategies” used by institutions and power structures and “tactics” used by modern subjects in their everyday life. The tactics are the ways in which individuals negotiate strategies that were set for them.

For instance, to take one example discussed by de Certeau, city’s layout, signage, driving and parking rules and official maps are strategies created by the government and companies. The ways an individual is moving through the city, taking shortcuts, wondering aimlessly, navigating through favorite routes and adopting others are tactics. In other words, an individual can’t physically reorganize the city but she can adopt itself to her needs by choosing how she moves through it. A tactic “expects to have to work on things in order to make them its own, or to make them ‘habitable’.”

Another example is fashion. Very few people wear all the clothes of one designer, instead they remix and personalise.

'strategy' and 'tactic' are now more mixed as businesses take individuals tactics and repackage it as product, 'tactic' have become 'strategy'.

De Certeau said that tactics were 'unmappable' as they were transitory and ephemeral but web2.0 now creates the possibility of mapping the emerging digital environment.

During the session we discussed the problems that this creates, for example the complete ownership of your name and photos that it appears Facebook gains once someone signs up. There were views expressed in favour of the freedom and remixability of a digital environment and others that feared that it was all just a new and clever strategy.

Highly recommended is the youtube video that we watched, The Machine is Us/ing Us by Michael Wesch.

TASKS for 31 October 2008

1. on your blog
respond to at least 2 of the questions I asked about Manovich’s essay,
you need to write 2-300 words or alternatively you can make you own video. This could be a very simple video, even recorded on a mobile phone, of you talking about your response. This can easily be uploaded to youtube or an other video hosting site like vimeo. Then you can embed it on your blog.

2. some of you still need to add your blog address to the student blogs page on this wiki.

3. next Friday we are going on a visit to the Barbican Centre, please make sure you know how to get there and arrive at 11am. Click here for more information.