Commentaries week 7, 8 & 9
Week 7: Crisis & Disaster: Communicative Ecologies in Action
Novel means to communicate, thus to participate, arise as part of this online ecology, challenging conventions, definitions, systems and boundaries. The interconnectivity has reached a point which the entire world can become a participant of global scope experiences. And disasters are not the exception. Earthquakes, bombings, hurricanes, massacres from all corners of the world, have shown the potential and adaptability of this tools to create a unique access to intimacy, unleashing empathy and reaction (McCosker 2013).
Immediacy, proximity and rawness, are by definition, synonyms of Social Media. Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, for example, have gained a prominent role in the production of content as an alternative to traditional communication channels. A de-framed vision of the events that defies narratives and structures, contributing to a vast number of perspectives and access points to disaster, “(…) as a form of localised experience and reaction than carefully developed information or analysis (McCosker 2013, p.78). They vivify the experience; they intensify the pain. Alongside, they accelerate the response and the call to action. However, a rawness with little restrictions.
The simplicity of content creation along with an abundance of content allows sufferers, participants and journalists, equally, to produce and reproduce graphic material detailing violence and pain. (Mcosker 2013). Besides, uncorroborated media information available and roaming through this universe can indiscriminately multiply and disseminated in mass (Posetti 2012).
Technology has been used in ways their creators did not pretend (Potts 2013). Twitter became the central tool of communication in 2010 during the earthquake in New Zealand, as a patent example of this need to establish communication and to overcome failures in power and communication structures. With its deficiencies, Twitter, through its hashtags systems, gathered the different actors and a crucial element to share information (Potts 2013).
Exists a need to connect, to communicate, a need to share and to create community. A sense of what Potts (2013) defines as a participatory culture that, through this whole alternative range of tools, have been able to engage and be part of this online ecosystem, at times, unguarded upon this need to communicate.
Posetti, J & Lo, P 2012, ‘The Twitterisation of ABCs Emergency & Disaster Communication’, The Australian Journal of Emergency Management , volume 27, no. 1, pp. 34–39.
Potts, L 2014, Social Media in Disaster Response: How Experience Architects Can Build for Participation, Taylor & Francis Ltd, London.
McCosker, A 2013, Intensive Media: Aversive Affect and Visual Culture, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke.
Week 8: The Future of Digital Work
Homes have become offices, studios, homes have become workplaces. Phones and laptops have become working tools. Working while commuting, working while with friends, working while with children, with family, working while with friends, working while shopping. A duality that seems to roam around with a tone of normalization in this 21st Century-cultural-ecology, revealing that the barrier between the work and non-work work realms, is progressively blurring. For some, this great connection with work duties, constitute an indisputable benefit for their private and professional lives. For others, simply an illusion of freedom and independence (Lloyd 2014).
The media landscape keeps changing. 24/7 online services to satisfy customers demands are setting the pace in this new virtual ecology, defined by immediacy, defined by invisible interactivity. Roles, have emerged and have gained notoriety. Community Managers have surged to keep their audiences engaged with their services, products, messages and to maintain a permanent ‘relationship’ through different social media platforms. 24/7 online services, 24/7 workers (McCosker 2016). A new universe of ‘always on’ workers (Lloyd 2014).
Westbury (2013), highlights the vast range of benefits that the NBN have triggered in his professional-private life, enabling him working from home (or any place with a quality internet connection). In a word, efficiency. Efficiency that has allowed him to spend more with his family and less time travelling. Likewise, Gregg (2012), underlines environmental and personal benefits of telework: less stress, less time commuting, freedom of movement and less unnecessary distractions. “Working from home allowed her to focus on what he found most important –her job- without the other parts of the industry shew didn’t enjoy: keeping up the appearances, dressing well, and office gossip (Gregg 2012, p. 43).
However, what is and what is not work? When does work finish? When does personal life start? The freedom of telework seems to be more enslaving that the routine of a 9 to 5 in an office environment. The ubiquity of after-work emails and messages through one of many online platforms, keep workers tied to work. For some, this absolute connection with work duties, constitute a clear benefit for their private and professional lives. For others, merely an illusion of freedom and independence (Lloyd 2014).
Gregg, M 2012, Work’s Intimacy, Polity Press, Cambridge.
McCosker, A, Reed, D, Farrell, C, 2016, Social Media Industries: Bridging the Gap between Theory and Practice, Swinburne Research Bank.
Lloyd, V 2014, ‘The Illusionist’s Trick’, Inside Story, 25 July, viewed 30 September 2017,
Westbury, M 2013, ‘How the #NBN has (actually) changed my life’ , Marcus Westbury, May 13, viewed 30 September 2017,
Week 9: Mobile, Locative & Urban Media Ecologies: From utility to play.
A couple of friends are having breakfast. They are sharing the same table; they are listening to the same music, they are sharing the same location, they are sharing the same environment and they are sitting in front of each other. However, their eyes are glued on their smartphones looking up occasionally to ‘share’ their findings on the online realm. Immediately after this interaction, eyes are back on the screen. A picture that could have been taken years ago from a movie script, yet seems to be a common denominator for this centuries interactions.
Technology keeps changing habits, routines and behaviour. Technology keeps changing the way to interact, the way to communicate and contemplate a group of friends sharing their offline experiences on the online universe is part of the everyday schedule. And probably because these small devices can satisfy more than “a” need: they can provide from, the weather report and the last trends in business to the most recent photo of a friend’s trip to South America and why they recommend a particular route to explore the dunes of San Pedro de Atacama. There is not just one way or a correct way to use mobile media (Farman 2014), and this wide range of uses have led to a different level of interaction and a different level of narrative.
From an optimistic perspective, projects such as those driven by the UK media art collective Blast Theory, are allowing people to experience spaces in a unprecedented way (Farman 2014). Through use of locative and media technologies (Wilken 2014), Blast Theory encourages ‘players’ to participate, co-create the story and to interact with complete strangers. (…) they do open up opportunities for potentially transformative encounters with “The Other” (Wilken 2014, p.185).
In the same line of thought, de Souza e Silva & Frith (2014), highlight the potential of locative and new technologies that are changing the ways to read and write through a wide range of narratives such as reviews, comments, rating and personal photos. Likewise, are overcoming barriers as distance and languages to communicate and create the sense of communities, regardless of the geographic location. “People could live in places without fully integrating into place-defined communities because they could create their own community in an online chat or virtual world “(de Souza e Silva & Frith 2014, p.38).
Just as there is no just a way to use mobile devices, nor an only way to interact, to narrate, to communicate or to belong. And it seems to be that instead of alienate, technology has encouraged novel connections in this immense and evolving ecology.
de Souza e Silva, A, & Frith, J (2014), ‘Re-narrating the city through the presentation of location’, in J. Farman (ed), The Mobile Story: Narrative practices with locative technologies, Routledge, New York, pp. 39–49.
Farman, J 2014 ‘Site-Specificity, Pervasive Computing, and the Reading Interface’, in J Farman (ed), The Mobile Story: Narrative practices with locative technologies, Routledge, New York, pp. 3–16.
Wilken, R. 2014 ‘Proximity and Alienation: Narratives of City, Self and Other in the Locative Games of Blast Theory’, in J. Farman (ed), The Mobile Story: Narrative practices with locative technologies, Routledge, New York, pp. 175–191.