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Entries from July 2011

Blurring definitions

July 14th, 2011 · No Comments

Most of us probably grew up in educational cultures where sorting opposing terms could be done cleanly with a T-chart. Maybe with a Venn if there were shades of grey. A Venn diagram detailing black and white would have us grasping for straws, finally writing “they are both considered colours” (knowing that white is not) and “they both work in totality” (white reflects all; black absorbs all).

Not here.

Initially ready to contrast allopoiesis and autopoiesis as they apply to this being but not that creation, I instead found myself ready to challenge the concept of exclusively defining beings as either allopoietic or autopoietic. Just in time, Murphie and Potts (2003) moved from defining to applying, quoting Guattari: “there is always a relation between [autopoiesis and allopoiesis], and … most assemblages contain both” (p. 197).

We can separate these opposites by definition, but not in application.

Regarding signs that mean and signs that operate, again, the presentation of the distinction suggests there is a dividing line that separates the two. Defining operational signs as those that make us do and meaningful signs as those that make us think, in application I cannot think of one that makes me do without also making me think, and vice versa. A sign operates in a particular way because it has meaning. If it is more concrete than this, then I clearly still require assistance, but I see here another blur of intended contrasts.

The blurs continue as the concept of ecology expands metaphorically from its origins of being a way of seeing systems within the natural environment to a way of seeing ourselves and our social systems. In line with the themes of complexity and chaos, ecology becomes difficult to isolate within tight boundaries as diversity within one layer is bound to connect to another layer with or without notice: how do we examine one individual (taking the second ecology) without gradually morphing across ecologies, considering alliances, relationships, the socius (the third ecology), or the natural environment in which that individual sits (the first ecology) (Murphie & Potts, 2003, p. 199).

A similar trend occurs with the third nature. It is not a linear pattern of progression where we might be tempted to think of the third nature as the next step. The natures interact and always have. Wherever we now have the second nature (essentially anything “we” have been a part of) we will also find the third (communicative media – whatever the technology of the time is/was for this); even as we work with the first (agriculture), communicative technologies influence eg: our knowledge of how-to. (Murphie & Potts, 2003, p. 200)

Public and private space – and our sense of the two – are also blurring.

What I am enjoying about these in particular is the thematic connection throughout and how it is coming together, threading together all the little p├ętit narratives to reveal the overarching pattern amidst the appearance of complexity, if not chaos.

As we ‘unfold’ the learning, it all folds back into itself to reveal the whole.

It’s kind of like watching “Happy Feet”: it starts with a picture from outer space, moves into the detail of the Antarctica, moves through a variety of issues requiring attention, then zooms back out for the greater global… no, universal picture. And it all comes down to “how do we want to live our lives?”


Murphie, A. and Potts, J. (2003). Culture & Technology. New York, NY; Palgrave Macmillian.

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Next Stop: ETEC 531

July 3rd, 2011 · No Comments

I’ll have to make a new page for it… COURSE #8!! We’re counting down, baby!!

OK, back to my academic voice: I’m just waiting for my latest production to finish publishing to youtube and it occurred to me I should be posting it here. This is my first assignment for ETEC 531: Media studies in culture and technology. It’s very interesting and intriguing in terms of realizing just how proliferated – completely infiltrated – our culture, our lives, our very being are by technology, and more so to read the theoretical pinings, the foresight, visions and cautions that have long been stated. Our concerns are not new. The question is whether anyone is listening, and then for those who are not listening, who are they and what will be the consequences of their heedless steadfastness?

Here’s my production. I made this one on my gee-what-have-I-got-in-this-computer-anyway software. You know, the stuff that comes with the machine or shortly thereafter when you load your latest of Windows onto it. So that equates to Windows Movie Maker with the help of the snipping tool from Windows 7 and also the sound recorder that I didn’t even know I had until I went problem solving a couple of hours ago. The images and music are off the Internet, of course. Images are Creative Commons/please-attribute photos unless they are from the Stelarc or Green Day youtube videos listed in the credits (Stelarc’s The body is obsolete and Green Day’s 21 Guns, the two of which served as my initial inspiration along with thoughts resultant from my readings in Murphie & Potts’ (2003) Culture and Technology). I have been concerned about use of third party materials but am resting confident that 1) I have credited all diligently; 2) my use falls under fair dealing as per the Copyright Act as best as I can see – criticism for the purpose of education with due credit given. The composition and voice are mine – the speaking voice. Not the singing or the music. That’s Green Day.


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