Archive for the ‘research’ Category

The collision of fronts

December 11, 2007

I have been thinking for a while now about a post on Design Research about the problems with Facebook’s attempt to monetize its social network assets (that’s us) by making us into unwitting viral marketers. The author, Sam Ladner, reminds us of Erving Goffman’s notion of “the front”:

Using the theatre as a metaphor Goffman argued that we actually “perform” multiple selves. Each place we go has a “front” that we learn to incorporate. A front has a wardrobe, a setting, a decor, make-up, a script and stage direction.

Ladner argues that

Facebook’s Beacon didn’t work because it forces people to use multiple fronts AT THE SAME TIME.

In my view, even without Beacon, Facebook has that propensity. And so does blogging, particularly this kind of blogging where some of us are attempting to integrate blogging about our research and blogging about whatever else we want to blog about, including ourselves. We can choose what we blog about, which is a lot better than having our online purchases broadcast to everyone on our social network (surely they thought how embarrassing that could be?). But if we are going to blog in our real names about real things then there will be a collision of fronts.

Sam Ladner has pinpointed for me the issue that I felt but wasn’t articulating so well, which has been holding me back from “research blogging”. Now all I have to do is work out how to use multiple fronts at the same time without worrying. No – I have to start enjoying it!

copyright and surrealism/dadaism

October 6, 2007

Some of my recent research was about the effect of digital copyright laws on the practice of dadaist photomontage. That involves appropriating images, often from popular culture, then juxtaposing these images with other images and/or text to create new meanings. Often those new meanings are satirical, but there are no rules about that. Needless to say, on image-sharing web sites this art form cannot be practiced. Yes you can do photomontage, but keep it to your own images and don’t enter into visual dialog with mass culture.

I was seeing that as one of the excesses of the digital copyright regime, but something has happened this week that makes me wonder if indeed those who I thought were fascist copyright freaks are not actually surrealist conceptual artists working with society as their canvas.

So what happened? The Canadian Mint has declared that it owns the words “one cent”, and it owns the image of that coin (also called a penny), and needs to be paid money for the use thereof. It has actually sent a bill for over $47,000 to the OneCentNow campaign, which is a good start. Think of the scope of this one: all the coinage of all countries using decimal currency could fall under this copyright claim, and every time anyone advertises the price of their goods they should pay a royalty to the Canadian Mint, and so on. And it is cheap at the price, compared to what happened to Jammie Thomas over her music downloads.

I’m so glad my name is not Penny.

That’s my two cents worth anyway (uh oh).

thoughts after the Australian Blogging Conference 2007

September 29, 2007

Despite the state of my blog, I went along to this “unconference” where lots of bloggers conversed in real life instead of online.

It exceeded my expectations and has led to a shift in the way I am thinking about my blog. This new perspective came from two sources, at the beginning and the end of the conference. The first was Melissa Gregg, an academic who blogs at Home Cooked Theory both what she is researching and what is happening in her life, making a point of not separating the two. Later, Mark Bahnisch made the point that blogging in this way can offer something richer than “hi I’m Mark and I write serious stuff about politics”.

So having gone to the trouble of focussing my blog, and having found that it is difficult to regularly post in such a focussed manner, I am now adopting Melissa’s and Mark’s strategy. From here on, expect to find my thoughts on whatever I am thinking – you’ll get a more complete idea of me. Expect to find the stuff I am researching, even though it isn’t always specifically about the collective nature of creative process.

The session on research blogging has given me the confidence to adopt this approach. Some academic institutions frown on, or don’t permit, blogging about research but I know my university is fine with that. Someone (Anne Galloway) has already done a PhD through a blog. Jean Burgess at creativity/machine used her blog to collect things relevant to her thesis. Through the blog she ended up with a complex network of people in her field, and in related fields. And Sarah Xu is doing her Doctorate of Creative Arts through a blog (which has just been moved to WordPress).

So I won’t have to have two blogs, drawing a neat boundary between divided selves.  This feels fine.