The annual US National Institute for Computer Assisted Reporting (NICAR) conference brings together hundreds of some of the most experienced data journalists, mainly US-based, and is packed with sessions where you can learn about the latest developments, tools and techniques in the field. Since I didn’t make it to NICAR last week, I followed the most used conference hashtag, #NICAR13, to stay on top of the discussions. The abundance of sessions and presentations at NICAR makes it impossible for anyone to absorb everything that is being discussed, so here is a list of the most tweeted links from the conference, which might be useful to come back to. (Unfortunately I missed capturing tweets from the first day of the conference.)
This morning I attended the first lecture of the Digital Methods for Internet Research course at the University of Amsterdam. Richard Rogers, chair and professor in the university’s New Media & Digital Culture programme, introduced three stages of seeing the Web or of doing Internet research that we have witnessed so far.
In January 2012 I was interviewed by Alex Howard, O’Reilly Media’s Government 2.0 correspondent, about the state of data journalism. The interview was published on 14 February on O’Reilly Radar.
What is new about new media? As the term “new media” contains powerful ideological connotations, such as “new equals better,” the boundaries between old and new media have been intensely discussed in media studies. Are the old and the new media completely separate entities or are new media old media delivered with new technologies? Bolter and Grusin’s theory of remediation brings yet another way of thinking about new media and answering these questions. For Bolter and Grusin the specificity of new media, their “newness,” lies in the way they remediate older media. Building on McLuhan, they define remediation as “the representation of one medium in another.” Against the technologically progressive view which celebrates new media as an improvement on and a complete break with old media, this notion sets the grounds for conceptualizing the relationship between old and new media not as oppositional but as part of a media genealogy, focusing, in Foucauldian fashion, on their connections and affiliations instead.
The advent of digital media revived the interest for medium specificity as materiality of a medium in media studies, most influentially discussed until now by Marshall McLuhan. As Katherine Hayles rightfully points out, in the literary criticism environment it was the emergence of an alternative medium for supporting literary work, the electronic medium, which helped to make visible the medium specific assumptions of print and the dependence of the meaning of a literary text on the material apparatus used to produce it.
In doing research for my master thesis on smart houses as technologies of government ‘at a distance’ last year (which you can read here), I found it very difficult to find materials which treated this topic from a media and cultural studies perspective, as well as historically, which is what determined me to share this list with you. Most of the publications on smart houses treat the technical, design and technological innovation aspects of the subject and are usually written by technology designers as documentation for their experimental projects. There are extremely few books dedicated to smart houses as sole subject of investigation from a media and cultural studies perspective, but you may find references to the topic in books which treat broader related topics such as (new) media, domestic technologies, augmented reality, ambient intelligence or ubiquitous computing, and, more recently, life-assisting technologies for the elderly. Below are some of the most useful materials I consulted for a historical and critical media and cultural studies perspective on the topic:
In the final session of the conference, Sabine Niederer presented the launch of the first book dedicated entirely to the urban screens theme, The Urban Screens Reader. The book was edited by Scott McQuire and Meredith Martin from the University of Melbourne and Sabine Niederer from the Institute of Network Cultures. The Urban Screens Reader contains three sections: ‘Urban Screens: History, Technology, Politics’, ‘Sites’, and ‘Publics and Participation: Interactivity, Sociability and Strategies in Locative Media.’ The book in pdf will be soon available for free download on the INC website.
The Urban Screens conference which took place in Amsterdam on the 4th of December this year is the fourth in a series of events which has been organized around the theme of display screens (LED signs, plasma screens, projection boards, intelligent architectural surfaces, etc.) in urban spaces. It supports the idea of using public space as a platform for creation and cultural exchange, strengthening the local economy and encouraging public discussion. Since the first Urban Screens event in 2005 in Amsterdam, related international conferences have taken place in Manchester in 2007 and Melbourne in 2008. The series of events encourages the exploration of opportunities to employ the growing infrastructure of large digital displays in public space currently used mainly as a tool to influence consumer behavior through advertising, and expand them by displaying cultural and artistic content with the purpose of revitalizing public space, and generating public engagement and interaction.
Paul Klotz is an applied art engineer and light designer who specializes in interactive light installations for public spaces. By means of light and sound installations which create a feedback loops between the passerby and the installation upon physical interaction with the artwork, he attempts to set up in public spaces artistic zones which captivate, entertain and enrich human experience. The Tunnel Vision installation for example is a light and sound installation which responds to the individual’s hand movements within it by sound and light alterations.