Digital Environments

Week5 - 7 November 2008

notes and links from the session

This week we looked at the internet. This is a crucial element in any understanding of digital environments.

We looked at 5 views of the internet as outlined by Charles Leadbeater.

1. Just a tool

the importance of the internet is overblown
it's the same as we have always done
- just quicker, bigger audience
eg. ebay is just a large and convenient flea market

2. big but becoming dull

dull = integrated into everyday life
big changes can lead to big gains but only after the technological changes have become integrated
but it's a long time before we really see what impact the internet will have, if any

3. big but BAD

there are 3 reasons why some people see the internet as bad:

1. killing experts & professionals - mass amateurism
2. dependency on web - eroding independent thought - dumbing down
3. eroding privacy & identity

4. big and getting bigger FAST

for those holding this view, they see the internet as mainly good but there are different views as to why it is good:

a. more diversity, choice, frictionless markets, free stuff, choice, capitalist cornucopia, long tail
b. community & collaboration, commons production, peer to peer, non market, non hierarchical, open source, wikipedia, we think, communitarian utopia
c. different options for organising ourselves, get the things that matter done, innovation & knowledge sharing, collaboration, professionals & amateurs (but will all this social networking, new conversations, actually help in tackling major issues like environmental problems?)

5. big, good - could become bad

growth of the internet = pollution in the internet
spam, malware, surveillance, invasion of privacy, trivia
chaos, abuse of net = clogged up

this view see the current self-organisation as only a passing phase
it needs traditional control
someone to organise it - this leads to paid for access
the internet needs someone, business or maybe governments to regulate it, clean it up, build areas of easy quick access, free from spam, trivia etc
paid for access would of course mean that not everyone would have the same access

It is interesting that we talk about THE internet, one internet. It wasn't always like that, for example Compuserve and AOL started as walled off parts of the world wide web.


It is important for you to be aware of these different views so that as you walk into this new and ever expanding world, you have your eyes wide open and are able to see the implications for your own creative practice.


Links to the various videos I showed at the beginning of today's session:

Charles Leadbeater:
Charles Leadbeater's We Think ideas in a short video:

rat tales:
moving mario:
David Rokeby's Very Nervous System:
Appeel - stickers as virus:

TASKS for 14 November 2008

1. prepare 2 minute presentation

You will all have to give a very simple presentation, in words, pictures, performance, anyway you like, on the subject:

‘surface is . . .’

You have a maximum of 2 minutes, so it is very short. I just want you to think and read about 'surface' and present one simple thought.

2. continue to add your own reflections to your blog. Remember that at the end of this elective you will have to write a short essay. If you continue adding your own thoughts to your blog at least weekly, you will find it very easy at the end of the elective. All you will have to do is write a summary of your thoughts already in your blog.