Media Ecologies – Are they finally breaking down?

Blog 2:

The term “media ecology” refers to the way media communication techniques, technology, and forms of information influence society and help dictate cultural patterns of behaviour (Media Ecology Association 2009). As a discipline, media ecology is closely linked to concepts of technological determinism, by which it also assumes that changes in media technology or new methods of communication can directly affect society and culture.

Media ecologies were once the instrument of the elite or politically powerful. For example, print media made it feasible for governments to create ‘particular’ views of society, in turn influencing what humans perceived as ‘reality’. Nazi propaganda is a simple example of this (that comes to mind), as a persuasive new medium emerging during the 1930s it was used by Hitler and the German government to mould and sway popular thoughts in the public. This control of information technology can be referred to as a “monopoly of knowledge”, because “those in possession of scarce information technology hoard and wield the advantages it provides” (Levinson 1997), as was done with Nazi propaganda by persuading a one-side view.

propaganda Poster

    Holocaust Propaganda Poster: Hinter den Feindmachten: de Jude(Behind Enemy Lines: The Jew)

The Nazi propaganda poster above is a prime example of how “monopoly of knowledge” was used by the powerful to influence the public. The poster is one-sided, fixated on depicting Jews as evil, evident through the bold and upper case caption emphasising the words: The Jew. The man’s attire and the Star of David clearly distinguish him as Jewish (along with title) – his deceitful facial expression representing Jews as an entity to be untrustworthy people; the enemy. That is, the enemy fuelling Germany’s enemy powers – USA, UK and Russia (conveyed through flags). Audiences’ of this poster were mainly Germans and German sympathises, who, as described by Foss (Holocaust Propaganda 2012) were “vulnerable due to WWI and ready to blame their enemies for suffering” – and thus Nazi propaganda as a new medium at the time used authoritarian power to distribute such posters – with the aim to influence German citizens and supporters, in hope of dictating a Nazi cultural pattern of hatred towards the Jews and any other enemy of Germany.

However, today, with internet and technology evolving at such a rapid pace, “monopolies of knowledge” are (to a degree) beginning to break down. As described by Levinson (1997), “computer elites are in-practice self-eliminating, because computers are getting both cheaper and easier to use”. Thus, with the everyday person understanding how to use a computer, and the internet allowing anyone to contribute and share information online it’s evident that unlike the old days (Levinson’s Ancient Egypt example where complex writing system was only understood by literate priests and scribes), you don’t have to be an elite or expert to gain or share knowledge.

Milissa Deitz (2010) in The new media ecology acknowledges how access to media is a significant aspect of the democratic process. She describes how the current media landscape is challenging traditional conventions and frameworks of journalism; wiki leaks, non-journalists, and bloggers are just a few examples of how journalism is changing, with non-professional reporting the news. Feliz Guattari (ref) also acknowledges how the evolution of technology has allowed us to interact with media or a more personal scale, describing how political processes have changed with creative powers of invention demanding “laboratories of thought and experimentation for future forms of subjectivation”.  Furthermore, Deitz (2010) expresses how “information that was once protected by insiders and vested interests is now potentially available to all”, a reference to Wiki Leaks, and describes how through such evolution, “Big Brother is us”. Reinforcing the notion of “monopolies of knowledge” braking down, with information now coming from an array of sources; it (online landscape) is the birth of a democratic community.

The notion of media ecology has changed the way I think about media and the direct effects media can have on society and culture. It has made me question how technologies, old and new have influenced society or if they do this at all.  Although I am not a hundred percent fixed on a topic for the final research assignment, I believe the concepts of media ecology more than likely will have a presence in my assignment, how much so will be dependent on the subject I choose for the assignment.

Word: Machinic

Reference:

‘Analysis of Propganda Poster: Behind the Enemy Line: The Jew’, Holocaust Propaganda, 9 April, 2012, accessed 19 March 2012, < http://propagandaholocaust.wix.com/eng333/apps/blog/analysis-of-propaganda-poster-behind-enemy-powers&gt;.

Deitz, M 2010, ‘The New Media Ecology’, On Line Opinion: Australia’s e-journal of social and political debate, accessed 19 March 2013, <http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=11410&page=1>.

Fuller, M 2005, ‘Introduction: Media Ecologies’ in Media Ecologies: Materialist Energies in Art and Technoculture’, Cambridge, MA; MIT Press, pp. 1-12.

Kozulin, A 1993, ‘Literature as a psychological tool’, Educational Psychologist, vol. 28, no. 3, summer, pp. 253-265.

Levinson, P 1997, ‘The First Digital Medium in Soft Edge; a natural history and future of the information revolution’, London, Routledge, pp.11-20.

Media Ecology Association 2009, accessed 19 March 2013, <http://www.media-ecology.org/media_ecology/>.

Contrary Views: Technological Determinism Vs Cultural Materialism

Blog 1:

Among this week’s readings arose the topic of technology and culture, where two divergent beliefs regarding the interplay of technology and culture emerged; that is, “a contest between a technological determinist position and a cultural materialist one” (Murphie & Potts 2003, p. 11). These contrasting theories present opposing views on the relationship of technology and society, where technological determinism believes that (solely) technology is responsible for changing cultural values and social structure (Murphie & Potts 2003, p.11). While, cultural materialism, which steers away from such a one-sided argument, reasons that in fact political intention and social need are major factors involved in technological development (Murphie & Potts 2003, p.18).

Technological determinism can be used to describe how technology has influenced human evolution. One of the most prominent, yet controversial advocates of technological determinism is Marshall McLuhan who suggested that the “cultural significance of media lies not in their content, but in the way they alter our perception of the world” (Murphie & Potts 2003, p. 13 cited in McLuhan 1974, p.16). McLuhan concluded that technology, such as radio, TV and the printing press created new spaces for individuals to inhabit on a mental and physical basis and thus he argued that as humans adapted to these “new spaces”, that the “patterns of [their] perception steadily [altered] without resistance” (Murphie & Potts 2003, p. 13 cited in McLuhan 1974, p.16). Thus they changed; they evolved from technology.

While reading this, an example of technological determinism that came to mind are mobile phones. Twenty years back they did not exist and today they are everywhere. From a technological determinist stance these devices can be recognised as having made the world a “smaller world” (Murphie & Potts 2003, p.36), by allowing people to connect almost anywhere, at anytime, this notion goes the same for social networking. These advancements in technology have enhanced connectivity and in turn driven homogenisation of economic globalisation. They have created new digital societies gradually and without “resistance” – the mobile phone, at first offered communication on a strictly oral and text basis, today it offers live visual chat, internet connectivity, photo communication and so on, all unfolding without “resistance”.

The unveiling of Samsung’s Galaxy S4 in New York last week (to be released May/June 2013) is an example of how fast technology is advancing, with the Galaxy S3, Samsungs preceding phone only coming out mid June 2012. The Galaxy S4 highlights this notion of technology developing without “resistance”; offering its users 150 new features, some include taking photos and videos with the front and rear cameras at the same time; flipping between web pages, answering calls, scrolling up and down etc without touching the phone and the phone is even patient enough to detect whether you’re looking at it and then pause and restart the video you’re viewing (CNet 2013). Thus, I argue that this idea of technology developing without “resistance” has merit; mobiles (as just one example)continue to be advanced and society is doing nothing to stop it, if anything we are fuelling it by continuously updating our phones in order to keep up and own the latest gadget.

I believe (some) humans are becoming so absorbed in their mobile phones that they are beginning to become ignorant of the outside world (just a personal reflection), for example, ever had a friend that pulls out their mobile while on a dinner or coffee outing? Ignoring you in the process… Mobile phones could be said to echo McLauhan’s “global village” theory, that is, they create a “total perceptual field” in contrast to the order patterns of the world (Murphie & Potts 2003, p.14).

Opposing technological determinism is cultural materialism, as previously mentioned it accounts human need and political intention as significant factors in developing technology (Murphie & Potts 2003, p.18). Raymond Williams, a cultural materialist was critical of McLuhan because he believed that social, economic, political and institutional factors indeed influenced the need for new systems and growth in media and technology. Cultural materialism suggests that society influences the development of technology; a requirement by society must be distinguished and is then assisted to by technological growth and expansion (Murphie & Potts 2003, p.18).. For example, Williams explains how after WW1 social conditions changed, there was growth in society due to this event; “larger cities, more mobile populations, greater emphasis on family home” (Murphie & Potts 2003, p. 18 cited Williams 1975). This therefore meant there was a need for more extensive means of communication and pushed the growth of the radio from a “point-to-point communication…redeployed as a form of mass broadcasting” (Murphie & Potts 2003, p.18). Thus exemplifying how society influenced the development of technology at that point and time.

Interestingly, I’m not sure if I support either of the arguments a hundred percent, while I believe both technological determinism and cultural materialism present steady points I feel both beliefs contain flaws. Technological determinism ignores a major factor, those who create the technology; humans and thus they as the mechanics behind technology influence its growth (I believe). Furthermore, the development of technology isn’t as simple as society having a “need” and technology being created to meet this need as suggested by cultural materialism; first it must be possible to develop the technology (e.g. the field of medicine, there is a need for technology to restore human mobility and yes society has influenced the research behind such technology, however, a breakthrough in such technology remains nonexistent).

This week’s lecture and readings has offered me different ways of thinking theoretically about society and culture. At this point and time I’m still not sure what my research topic will be.  However, I am intrigued by the thoughts behind technological determinism and cultural materialism and would like to use these beliefs in the analyses and evaluation of my research subject when I come to settle on one.

Reference:

Murphie, A & Potts, J 2003, Theoretical Frameworks in Culture and Technology, London, Palgrave Macmillan, pp 11-38.

‘Samsung Galaxy S4 keeps calm, carries on with big screen, 8-core chip and, yes, eye tracking’, Cnet, 13 March, accessed 13 March 2013, <http://reviews.cnet.com/samsung-galaxy-s4/>.

Knox, Knox, Amanda’s There!

By Marcella Gallace

It was the murder case that created headlines across the world. On November 1, 2007, Meredith Kercher, a British exchange student, was found murdered in her shared apartment in Perugia, Italy. Within days Kercher’s American flatmate, Amanda Knox, and her then-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, were arrested by Italian police “in conncetion with the slaying.” The story picked up worldwide press coverage due to the cases international links – an American student accused of killing her British roommate in Italy. Media attention became particularly prominent in both England and America, where two divergent lines of focus emerged.

While the British media shone the spotlight on Knox, painting her as a villainous “she-devil” and “two-faced”, US media directed their attention to Italy’s flawed jurisdiction system. Analysis of the coverage shows the media from each country had an agenda outside of simply reporting the facts. The British media were motivated by the fact that the murdered woman, Kercher, was one of their own, and the American’s were picking the Italian legal system to shreds in an attempt to exonerate (one of) the accused, Knox.

Kercher, 21, had moved to Perugia in 2007 in order to complete her final year of university via an exchange program from Leeds University. When her body was discovered she had been raped and her throat slit. Knox, 20 at the time, and Sollecito, were eventually sentenced to Kercher’s murder on December 4, 2009 for 26 and 25 years respectively. However, due to a lack of physical evidence linking them to the murder they were freed two years later. A third man, Rudy Guede, was also sentenced in 2009 and remains convicted.

This analysis will look at US and British media coverage that the case received up until the “guilty” verdict and will analyse how the media from each country attempted to construe a particular perspective of Knox, and the case.

When the story first broke Knox was quickly painted as a “party-girl” with an “appetite for drink, drugs and sex” by the British media, who often referred to her as “Foxy Knoxy”, a nickname she was given in her teens. The term “Foxy Knoxy” is often misconstrued by the public as referring to Knox as ‘foxy’ as in cunning, sly and/or sexually appealing. The British media knowingly encouraged this by attaching the nickname to such descriptions as: “Foxy Knoxy”; uncaring, sexually rapacious and eager for a taste of life on the wild side,” when in reality her “soccer tricks had earned her a grade school nickname of “Foxy Knoxy,” as outlined by the New York Times, Timothy Egan.

Andrew Malone’s article, “The wild, raunchy past of Foxy Knoxy,” which was published in the Daily Mail on December 3, 2007, featured a still image showing Knox and Sollecito kissing outside the house where Kercher’s body still lay. This image was widely used in worldwide coverage of the event because it was viewed as “strange behaviour.”

Strange behaviour: Amanda Knox shares a kiss with then-boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito outside the crime scene. Image Source.

Malone used the image (left) to emphasise Knox’s odd and “emotionless” behaviour towards   Kercher’s death. The image construes Knox, more so than Sollecito, in a negative light, due to the relationship she shared with the victim. This behaviour was what first lead Italian police to suspect Knox was involved in the murder and would go on to be repeatedly used by the media, to construct a villainous image of the American.

Malone begins his article with an anecdote about a Seattle police officer who receives a “house disturbance call,” due to a party. The officer went to the location.

He later told colleagues it was like a scene from Baghdad. Gangs of students, high on drink and drugs, were hurling rocks into the road. Cars were swerving to avoid them… Police made only one arrest: the person they held responsible for the party and the disorder. Her name? Amanda Knox.”

Malone introduces Knox to the audience through this anecdote, where the first mention of her name is attached to an uncontrollable drug fuelled party and an “arrest”. He uses implicit language to conjure an image of Knox as wild, irresponsible and dangerous.

He refers to Knox as having developed “what her friends describe as a “double life,” where she was viewed as a “model pupil by teachers, excelling at sport, English and joined the school choir.” Malone contrasts this behaviour to a darker version of Knox, who after leaving home to study in Italy was given the “opportunity to break free and rebel – with disastrous consequences.” However, his argument is flawed; which “friends” described her as living a “double life”? He provides no names, nor relationship information (university, school or family friends), questioning the reliability and truth behind this assertion, which again attempts to damage Knox’s reputation with “evidence” of an alter ego.

Articles related to the case became more and more focused on Knox’s character and personality, greatly emphasising her “wild, raunchy past”. This image of Knox was already generated by the pre-trial hearings, which began in Perugia on September 19, 2008. Starting with tabloid newspapers, reporting became more sensationalised using offences as “Amanda Knox is a ‘diabolic sex-obsessed she devil” and “Secret Diary reveals Foxy Knoxy as was ‘always thinking about sex” in their headlines.

Malone’s article largely focused on Knox’s past sexual encounters in order to portray her as erratic and sexually enthusiastic. Why? Because Kercher died after being forced into a “drug-fuelled sex game.”

“Within hours of arriving in Rome, Knox e-mailed a former Washington University student, writing excitedly of having sex with a stranger on a train,” and apparently “the steady stream of men she brought home caused tensions between the English girl and herself,” Malone said.

She also “cultivated cannabis plants” at her Perguian apartment, smoking her “first joint before she dressed in the morning.” 

Malone portrays Knox as a sex-crazed drug addict – someone who is not in a fit mental state and who conforms the general public’s perception of a person capable of murder. Malone explicitly suggests that Knox’s behaviour caused “tension” between the girls and that they weren’t on good terms. However, once again Malone provides no reliable evidence to back up his claims.

The British media’s focus on Knox’s “abnormal” character was designed to fuel the perspective that Knox was evil. It encouraged many to believe Knox had no emotions towards the death of her friend, insinuating that a girl, who enjoys smoking cannabis and casual sex, also has it in her to commit murder. It should also be noted that no tangible evidence connected Knox or Sollecito to the murder scene; hence they were both cleared of murder on October 3, 2011. Despite this, the British media still managed to depict Knox as a murderer without any proof, possibly in seek of some sort of justice towards their Brit, Ketcher.

In comparison to some of the headlines in the British media, US headlines read along the line of “An Innocent Abroad“, “Is Amanda Knox Being Punished for Being American?“ and “Student on Trial in Italy Claims Police Pressure”. Already there is a clear division between British and US media coverage, which insists on Knox’s innocence by way of scathing attack of the Italian legal system.

Timothy Ethan’s article, “An Innocent Abroad,” published on The New York Times on June 10, 2009 introduces Knox as an “American student named “Angel Face”, which implies Knox is as innocent as an angel and has been wrongly caught up in the murder. This is the exact opposite of the image that Malone presented of Knox; nevertheless each author is obviously biased. Ethan explicitly takes a dig at the Italian legal system:

The case against Knox has so many holes in it, and is so tied to the career of a powerful Italian prosecutor who is under indictment for professional misconduct, that any fair-minded jury would have thrown it out months ago.”

“Knox and Sollecito were arrested in large part because of what they said under duress by interrogation of the prosecutor, Giuliano Mignini. After being questioned all night without an attorney or a professional translator, Knox said some things in response to a series of hypothetical questions. This was initially trumpeted as a contradiction, or worst – a confession.”

Ethan blames the Italian legal system for their “slipslop prosecution… the railroad job from hell,” in order to portray Knox as a victim caught up in the murder case due to Mignini. This emphasise on the Italian jurisdiction system as flawed presents a different perspective of Knox, from that of Malone and British publications. Like Malone, Ethan has also cast a villain in the murder trial, that is, the Italian legal system which he uses to portray Knox as a victim of a flawed system in order to gain the readers sympathy.

It is clear that the media in Britain and the US covered this murder case with alternative motivations. Britain wanted to find and condemn someone responsible for the horrific murder of their fellow Brit. Knox’s “strange” behaviour; “her femaleness, her Americaness, and her beauty” made her an easy target. US media on the other hand worked hard to construct the image of Knox as a helpless American student stuck in a foreign country and the victim of a flawed justice system. In both cases, the media had an agenda; media coverage was not based on facts, but unsupported claims and each author’s opinion.

 

Lingerie Football has Aussies Heated

Australian talent Chloe Butler celebrates with a touchdown at the Brisbane LFL ‘All Star’ match on the weekend. Photo provided by Chloe Butler

By Marcella Gallace

Lingerie Football is the latest craze to touchdown in Australia and as its title suggests, features scantily-clad female footballers playing a modified version of US NRL football. The Lingerie Football League (LFL) blossomed from American soil and has been causing a storm ever since mention of an Australian league. 

After exhibiting its first game in Australia, the Lingerie Football League (LFL) was sure to get some knickers in a knot. The US spectacle that introduced lingerie kitted women playing ball on the football pitch plans to expand into Australia by 2013 and has all sorts of crowds roaring.

On the weekend, the LFL made its debut on Australian soil at Brisbane’s Entertainment Centre, where Australia’s sole LFL player, Chloe Butler eyed out her opponents, shook off the defenders and sprinted full throttle to score a touchdown on home turf. The crowd jolted up, blaring with excitement.

But not everyone is onboard.

Widespread protests to ban the LFL from coming to Australia were fuelled late last year, when the LFL announced an official Australian league for 2013. Collective Shout, a campaigning movement against the objectification and sexualisation of women in the media have gain almost 1,500 signatures on an online petition to “Stop the Lingerie Football League in Australia,” and are not backing down.

Lily Munroe, who has helped drive the petition said, “we will keep speaking up and boycotting the [LFL] until sponsors, and promoters withdraw their support, so that the LFL does not go ahead here next year.”

The Australian Sports Commission has said they do not recognise lingerie football as a sport, but as they are not a regulatory body cannot stop the LFL from coming to Australia.

Collective Shout representative, Melinda Tankard Reist is appalled by the league and believes, “This exploitation of women’s bodies for profit undermines real sportswomen. Mainstreaming stripper-style representations of women, including in sport, sets back the cause of equality and fair treatment.”

One of the agreements that players must consent to is “accidental nudity.” With the LFL contract reading: “Player knowingly and voluntarily agrees to provide player’s service… and has no objection to providing services involving player’s accidental nudity.”

The contract also specifies players will be fined $500 if they wear additional items of clothing under the lingerie kit.

It is this exploitation of women in sport that particularly has Resit’s blood boiling. “It dashes our hopes of growing a generation of empowered young women. It reinforces the notion that if a young woman wants to play sport she has to bare her flesh and be publicly sexual.”

Federal Minister for Sport Kate Lundy was also not among the 6,000 LFL supporters at Brisbane’s Entertainment Centre on Saturday night, labelling the LFL as an “assault on sport.”

“We should be applauding the athletic feats and sportsmanship of our female athletes, not screening a show to provide cheap titillation to a few,” Ms Lundy said.

“Lingerie Football objectifies and exploits women by trading on their sexuality to make money pure and simple. We can do so much better than LFL. And most importantly, our daughters deserve more,” Ms Lundy finished.

Mitch Mortaza, the founder and chairman of the LFL was quick to respond to Ms Lundy on Facebook: “Recent comments about LFL Football being a “cheap, degrading” perv is certainly not representative of our sport or its athletes. LFL Football is a real sport played by remarkable women from all walks of life.”

Lingerie Football was introduced to the world as a Super Bowl half time entertainment in 2005 and by 2009, Mortaza had launched the LFL. The game attracts millions of viewers worldwide and is televised in more than 85 countries.

Mortaza is adamant that the LFL will also be a hit in Australia and stated he is “expecting capacity crowds,” for the ‘All Star’ matches. The Brisbane game almost filled half a stadium and the second match scheduled for Sydney this Saturday has already sold half their tickets.

Queensland’s charismatic and fun-loving gal, Chloe Butler has been sporting the lingerie uniform ever since her debut with the LFL in 2011. Having played rugby for ACT and run hurdles for Australia, the 25-year-old brings more than a pretty face to the pitch.

But her cheerful voice was far from present when we mentioned the Australian Sports Commission and their decision not to recognise lingerie football as a sport. “They can say that but really there are no laws to say this is not a sport.”

“It’s a physical and very aggressive sport so that’s priority,” Butler described with eagerness. However, she doesn’t try to hide behind her garter, “You have to look fit, they’re trying to promote healthy women and you know it’s an entertainment driven market that is sold on ‘sex sells’.”

Australian Womensport and Recreation Association President Janice Crosswhite is opposed to the lingerie uniforms, and believes they are problematic for a full-on-contact sport as they place players at a greater risk of injury. She said the attire detracts their image as serious sportswoman and undermines the hard work that sporting organizations have done across the country to have female athlete’s respected for their athleticism rather than bodies.

Ms Crosswhite hopes “the League fails to survive in Australia.”

Butler was quick to rebut the idea the lingerie uniforms provide insufficient kitting, saying that no matter what sport you do you will get hurt, with or without protective gear. “I did track and field, if I hit the hurdle and hit the ground, should I be running with knee pads?”

“If you ask any Olympic athlete – the only way they got there was by learning to deal with injury. So it is what it is in sport.”

Alternatively, former LFL player Natasha Lindsey who was hit with a career ending injury had much to say about the Lingerie uniforms and LFL. The American Seattle Mists’ player was injured in the very first game of the 2011 LFL season, after taking a side swipe which twisted her knee.

“When I got up it was difficult to walk, so I knew something was seriously wrong. We had a team physician, chiropractor and a rehab guy on site – I saw them, they iced it and stretched it. I actually kept playing the game basically until I couldn’t walk anymore.”

The incident left Lindsey with a torn knee ligament, which required major surgery and medical attention, leaving her with costly medical bills in a sport where player are not paid to play.

The LFL players have their travel, uniform and expenses paid for, but play for free.

According to Lindsey the LFL made it considerably difficult to claim the player insurance she was entitled to and had to “wait a good three to four months before [receiving] any professional care or MRI, possible surgery or anything.”

Six months after sustaining injury Lindsey received knee reconstruction surgery, but with a few hurdles still present. The day before scheduled surgery, Lindsey was called into the doctor’s office and was told the LFL had not provided the required papers that the insurance company needed to claim and pay for Lindsey’s surgery. “So the doctor said we need to cancel surgery.”

Lindsey was rescheduled for surgery and received the $10,000 insurance from the LFL for a surgery that cost her $16,000. Her medical bills have stacked up to $20,000, and she believes a $10,000 cover for “any injury a player can sustain in a full contact seven on seven game is unrealistic.”

Even LFL player Liz Gorman has said she prefers more clothing and didn’t like the lingerie uniform.

“I’d rather wear full clothing, because when you fall, it literally rips your skin,” Gorman told CBC Radio earlier this year.

Tryouts for the 2013 LFL Australian league hit Brisbane last week, where Lauren Funnell, a current QLD Gridiron player decided to ditch the “full kit” uniform, that is “the same amount of clothing that the men wear,” and display her skills for the LFL.

“My big goal is the Lingerie Football League purely because you get to travel overseas,” Funnell said with sincerity. Nor is she scared of the lingerie uniform, “I’ve grown up on the beach and so prancing around in bikinis it’s not really much different.”

And a little bit of nudity doesn’t have this gridiron player stepping back either. “I think that [a flash] can happen in any sport to be honest, I mean even surfing, wearing bikinis coming down a wave you risk coming up and coming out [of your bikini],” Funnell described with a laugh.

The Australian LFL has limited room, with only 20 spots per team. Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth have been chosen as the four designated teams for the opening season.

This Thursday Sydney will host tryouts for the LFL, with Melbourne and Perth scheduled later this year.

For those of you who haven’t seen a game of lingerie football, the game consists of two 17-mintue halves, with a sudden death of eight minutes if needed. The game is a modified version of US NRL football that has scantily-clad women taking one another out on the pitch. There is as much ego on the field as there is in the locker room, not to mention the tears.

Even Butler gets riled up and fierce on the pitch. But when she first stood on the lingerie football field she admits she felt “a bit intimated.”

“At the start I was a bit intimidated after being knocked the hell down and then seeing [the opponent] screaming in my face like ‘what? what?’…I’m like ‘oh um I’m not sure’” Butler recounted in laughter. “But you get used to it. You hear performers like Beyonce say shit like Sasha Fierce (Beyonce’s alter ego), that’s what I feel when I go to play, I become somebody else, like aggressive.”

With the lingerie kit also comes a surprised flash or two, an experience that Butler is use to, “if you Google my name it comes up ‘loses pants’. I lost them in a touchdown but as long as I caught the ball, that’s all that matters.”

University of New South Wales Professor Helen Caple isn’t impressed with the league and said it reinforces the inequality between men and women in sport.

“The women who participate in this have to be realistic of where this recognition is initially coming – the sexualisation and objectification of their bodies. Looking at the videos and the way these women train it’s clear they take their sport very seriously, they are athletes and deserve to be recognised as elite athlete’s equality as men are recognised – but that’s just not the situation,” she said.

“It reinforces all the stereotypes many women have been battling for so long – you just throw your hands up in  despair and say where can you go with this.”

Task Three: “Essay in-lieu-of-examination”

By M Gallace, M10A, 3331262

When publishing changes, so does society. Investigate and compare the impact of two publication technologies, one pre-1900 and one post-2000, on a specific aspect of society.

Society is made up of both individuals and wider social formations, they are living entities who are, as Steven Shaviro (2009) describes, “mortal – they have dates of coming into existence and passing out of existence.” Through these spurts of civilization different forms of technology and publishing methods have emerged – just as publication technologies change and evolved, so too does society. This becomes evident via the observation and comparison of two publication technologies during diverse eras of civilization. The Japanese printmaking technique and art form of Japanese woodblock printing, emerging during the Seventeenth century, provided both mass production in literature and art, initiating a change in society and providing, history, news, philosophy and other educational material to the Japanese culture at large. Just as Japanese woodblock printing impacted how society distributed educational material, so too does the invention of the three-dimensional (3D) printer, a revolutionary tool of the twenty-first century aiding research and visual learning.

1830, Golden Pheasant with Bracken Ferns, by Hiroshige demonstrates the vivid colours of Japanese woodblock prints

Japanese woodblock printing was used both as an artistic tool to record and publish artworks as well as a means to print books, impacting the distribution and intake of educational material to the Japanese culture. This printing technique became prominent in Japan during the Edo period (1603-1867) for artistic and literary reasons. Although the process derived from China, recognised as the “first form of printing to be invented” (Hopwood 1971, p.142), the Japanese surpassed the Chinese in colour technique, becoming the first region in the world to “produce multicolored woodblock prints and of a high quality,” (History World n.d.).The capacity to produce coloured woodblock prints reached full maturity by 1765 and was not matched by any other printing device until the beginning of the twentieth century (Hopwood 1971, p.142). This was one of the core reasons the Japanese chose this form of publishing. Printed woodblock art and literature, provided historical records of the Japanese culture and via the process of “archivization produce[d] as much as it record[ed] the event,” (Derrida 1994, citied in Stokes 2003). These woodblock printed archives have worked significantly in educating people of that era, as well as informing different civilizations throughout time  of the customs, culture and history of Japan and still work till today by providing an “archiveable content of the past,” (Derrida 1994, citied in Stokes 2003).

The Japanese choose woodblock printing above other printing practices as a means to retain their heritage and cultural ethnicity. By the end of the sixteenth century the Japanese had access to a moveable type device similar to Johannes Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press, but despite the appeal of this machine chose woodblock printing techniques instead because the running script style of Japanese text was better produced via woodblock prints (Hopwood 1971, p.144). Thus, this choice demonstrates the importancy of retaining the traditional Japanese writing style. The method of woodblock printing was lengthy, with the original drawing or text illustrated on rice paper first, duplicated and then glued to the plank of wood. From here, wood would be chipped away according to the original illustration, inked by brushing on pigment mix and then pressed against rice paper to produce the publishment (Schlombs 2007, p.7). In addition, each print required the collaboration of four experts: the designer, the engraver, the printer, and the publisher (Schlombs 2007, p.7). It is evident that an assemblage was created through this printing process in a flat ontology and that each actant, human and non-human (e.g. woodblock, carving knife) was of equal importance to the success of a good print (Actor Network theory 2012).

The impact of woodblock printing on the Japanese society was immense and aided the changes recognized in their culture, particularly education due to the availability of printed books from the early 1600s onwards. Woodblock printed books were being published from as early as the eighth century, but printing was restricted to the Buddhist sphere only (Kainosho 1997, p.22). Japanese military leader Tokugawa Leyasu recognised how important an educated society was, and immediately prompted literacy after becoming head of military in 1603, the year in which the general public is seen as producing woodblock printed books.  Prior to this, books were handwritten, making their distribution hardly existent due to the duration taken to produce merely one (Printing Studio 2012). This change in publishing techniques allowed scholars to focus their efforts on the revision of ancient texts as well as gather additional data, rather than spend their energies transcribing original documents for preservation (Printing Studio 2012). Japan had begun distributing mass productions of literature within three years of the introduction of this printing process (Printing Studio 2012). The capacity to print as an ability to preserve knowledge and accumulate information vitally changed the mentality of early modern readers, initiating a change in education that fundamentally transformed Japan and Eastern Asia.

 This shift to woodblock printing reversed the whole orientation of attitudes towards learning. Two pioneers that help this development were artists, Hon’ami Koetsu and Suminokure Soan who transcribed both the images and literature of Japanese classics from handscrolls onto woodblocks (Hopwood 1971, p.144). Their books were distributed to literary experts, but within years other publishing houses bloomed, producing cheaper copies for general consumption (Hopwood 1971, p.144). This printing process ended the domination of those literately elite, such as the Buddhist sphere and wealthy, allowing a new class of educated people to emerge.  Thus, shifting the hub of knowledge and intellectual life from the Buddhist sphere and elite, conveying that changes in publishing, aided educational changes in society.

 The general public’s accessibility to Japanese woodblock printing changed society, and impacted upon their education for the better. Not only did the mass production of books, allow diverse classes of society a chance to buy literature but it also initiated self-learning options. Furthermore, the ability to create woodblock prints was an educational process and instigated skills in carving, printing, and design all over Japan (Printing Studio 2012). While these skills were flourishing, so too was the art form of Japanese ukiyo-e woodblock prints. The stories told within ukiyo-e prints focused on theatre, landscape sceneries, historical tales and the Japanese people – ukiyo-e prints, like books, worked as educational platforms to inform and notify society of the events and stories to be told about the nation (Kainosho 1997, p.11). The mass production of these artworks meant the general public could afford an ukiyo-e print, and thus relish in the visual language and stories these artworks had to tell.  They gave the illiterate the chance to inform themselves through visual stories as well as add these artworks to their archives. As described by Derrida (Enszer 2008), when viewing such archives the individual (whether then or today) is set “in what is already a psychic spacing,” and is not reduced to memory only, but a spiritual setting too. It was such changes and movements in publishing pre-1900, as Japanese woodblock printing, that resulted in the educational landscape present today.

 Just as Japanese woodblock printing was viewed as revolutionary for its time, providing new educative resources to society, so too was the invention of 3D printers. The 3D printer, which has become predominantly available in the past decade and increasingly affordable within the past several years, has brought a radical educational resource to Western civilization. Similar to how Japanese woodblock printing provided a quicker means to publish or reproduce artworks and literature, the 3D printer offers a faster means to produce prototypes and models for research, educational and design purposes.

 The rapidness and growth of emerging technologies and publishing techniques have flourished throughout the past century, and with these changes has come the distribution of post-2000 3D printers, a device that has impacted the academic, design and business world. The invention of the 3D printer folds back to 1984, where we start to see the initial developments of the technology by Charles Hulls (3Der 2012). However, the device wasn’t commercialized until the early 1990s and “had a relatively low profile….in part this was due to the five or six-figure prices that early 3D printers commanded, and in part reflected the relatively low quality of the objects printers produced,” (Daw 2010). Therefore, the creation of post-2000 3D printers, such as the Objet Connex500 have had the geatest impact upon society due to heighten printing finishes, affordability and additional printing options. The normal cost for one of these machines in the past several years has “dropped to a more reasonable level: $1000 to $ 3000,” (Daw 2010), thus becoming affordable to the general consumer. The use of this 3D equipment for educational purposes, in particular, has increased at a fast rate with educators recognizing how the technology “assists students in learning in visual and tangible ways,” (Inkpal 2011).

 As publishing techniques change, so does society because they too advance their educational and practical skills. Post-2000 3D printers, such as Projets or Objets are being introduced to schools around the world because apart from assisting the growth in visual learning, 3D printers enable students to gain a deeper understanding in physical and spatial concepts through the 3D models they print (Inkpal 2011). The production of 3D visual media “captures [the students] attention by allowing a pictorial interpretation,” (Gates 2008) through the physicality and interactive qualities that 3D models offer. Similar to how Japanese woodblock printing prompted skills in the creative arts and literately world, 3D printing demands computer skills in three-dimensional modelling software such as Computer Aided Design (CAD) or CATIA. This conveys how a change in publishing, also prompts a change in society as the public needs to evolve and advance their skills in order to keep up with the technology. Knowledge and practical computer skills are also heightened by the 3D Printer because software programs such as, CAD or CATIA are used to build three-dimensional models. The 3D printer reads the digital input from the three-dimensional data provided in the software program (CAD, CATIA etc) and slowly prints layer on top of layer of additive (e.g. photopolymer, resin etc) to create a solid, three-dimensional model (3D Systems 2012).

CATIA 3D Model of half scale soccer ball ready for print

 The phenomena of 3D printers have particularly impacted the educational resources available to the academic, business and design world. Post-2000 printers such as the Objet 3D Rapid Prototype Printer, which specialises in the creation of prototypes aids academics, researchers and university students with testing and experimentation. Prior to Rapid Prototypes or 3D printers, a three-dimensional prototype had to physically be made by hand, a time consuming process that has been diminished by 3D printing machines (Heidel 2012). The Objet 3D Rapid Prototype can be found in academic environments around the world, including the University of New South Wale’s Mechanical Engineering building. Here, you will find engineering students and professors publishing prototypes as a means to test concepts and designs in order to enhance accuracy and detect errors through analyses. The CATIA 3D model (image) above, and below (image) prototype, created by post-graduate UNSW aerospace engineering student Joseph Gallace aided his thesis studies, with the prototype allowing him to test the spin rates and pressure dynamics towards the Adidas Jabulani soccer ball. The 3D printer is not subject to engineers, but of great use to designers, architects and hobbyists

Prototype of the above CATIA 3D Model of the Adidas Jabulani (half scale) soccer ball

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 3D printing has revolutionised the process of creating prototypes, strongly impacting up research methods and product trials. International company Adidas has highly praised the benefits of 3D printers, stating that “before Adidas used Objet’s unique, multi-material 3D printing technology, all Adidas prototypes were hand-made by 12 technicians using special tools to model every single joint and crease according to 3D specifications,” (Heidel 2012). Adidas recently welcomed the latest 3D printer, the Objet Connex500 3D Printing System, to their research labs, which according to Adidas, not only helps the process of immediately detecting and eliminating errors in athletic footwear and equipment, but creates 3D models with unrivalled accuracy and surface quality that convey a precise idea of the final product (Heidel 2012). This publishing technique has highly impacted and sped up Adidas’s trial and research process as “models can now be evaluated and accepted within just one or two days… saving Adidas four to six weeks of work as compared to there previous mould-making process,” (Heidel 2012).

 Changes in technology and publishing brings with it alterations to the law and knowledge in these regulations.  With the introduction of woodblock printing to Japan came mass production of books and art and thus publishing houses emerged. This eventuated to the closest concept equivalent to copyright where Japanese publishing house, Tsuta-ya, implemented that a publisher has ownership or copyright of the physical woodblocks used to print images or text (Hopwood 1971, p.142). Today, an increased knowledge in copyright laws has increased among society due to the changes in publishing technologies – initiating such legislations as SOPA, ACTA, PIPA and so on to prevent copyright theft. Piracy of 3D CAD documents or “physibles, data objects that are able (and feasible) to become physical,” (Walter 2012) through a 3D printer is one of the problems these machines pose. There has been criticism that SOPAs focus on preventing music, film, game and book theft will need to expand to prevent the illegal download of physibles (Basulto 2012).

 As publishing changes, so too does society, because civilization need to evolve their skills in order to understand and keep up with the movement of publishing techniques. This is visible in both the emergence of Japanese woodblock printing and 3D printers, which mutually, in their own way impacted the educational realm of their era. Japanese woodblock printing fundamentally presented all classes of the Japanese society with literature and art via mass production. Through this a break with the past and educative opportunties to only the Buddhist spheres and wealthy was broken. Post-2000 3D printing has not only aided research and testing methods for many classes of society but has pushed the growth in computer skills (CAD) too.

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Visualisation Project Final – WOLD COFFEE

Our visualisation takes the invisible data of the top consumers and producers of coffee and places this information into a coherent, easy to understand visualization.

The invisible data:

Overwhelming data that is distracting and confusing to follow. Double click to enlarge.

The invisible made visible:

Group visualisation – making visible the international consumption and production pattern of coffee .

To what extent are we ‘creating’ it via making it visible? 

  • Through a simple colour chart our visualization clearly illustrates the top 5 Producers (green) and consumers (red) of coffee.
  • The size of each country bubble indicates the percentage of the consumption or production of coffee e.g. the larger the bubble the higher the percentage of consumption or production is.

What difference does it make to publish such a visualisation?

  • The difference that the publication of this visualisation would make, is that it allows people to better understand the coffee industry without having to search through messy factsheets (like the data sheet pasted).
  • The use of a world map visually illustrates the north/south divide of the production and consumption of coffee, allowing the public to see a direct correlation between climate and coffee production.
  • It highlights the developing world’s reliance on equatorial countries to produce coffee.

In which publics does such a visualisation intervene?

This visual documentation is accordant to the adult demographic, with the average person starting to drink coffee at 18. It not only intervenes on the countries mentioned, but is relevant to an international public with coffee being one of the most consumed beverages in the world and second most traded commodity in the world (oil being first).

It is relevant to those involved in the coffee business:

  • It is important to exporters as they are able to see their competition as well as the top buyers or importers, rather, of the product.
  • It allows importers and roasters to recognise where the highest cultivation of coffee is and possible countries to buy coffee beans from.

While also providing coffee shops, sellers and customers a visual comprehension of the correlation between climate and coffee bean growth – from the world coffee map we can see that the coffee bean shrub grows in countries on or near the equator, this is due to the tropical rainforest climate found in these countries, ideal conditions for coffee bean growth.We can also visually identify where the highest consumers of coffee are internationally located (which from our map we can see Europeans are the highest consumers).

World Coffee visualisation with Equator line – this was a rollover addition and would appear with mouse rollover