ARTS3091 Blog 7 -Transparency & True Democracy

May 7, 2012 § Leave a comment

Can the ubiquitous way in which data is stored, manipulated and accessed help create a ‘true’ or at least a ‘truer’ democracy?

In Australia we have a representative democracy; a model analogous to a pyramid, where everyday people give input at the bottom of the pyramid, which is then passed to the top, where decisions are made.

I think it is important to look at transparency in two separate ways: – The transparency of function and the transparency of communication.

Make the functions visible

As Catherine Styles (2009) discusses in her blog, the first step to a ‘truer’ democracy is to make the functions of democracy clearly visible. Making information available keeps people accountable, and as discussed in ‘Open Gov the Movie’ it also makes people more involved. As Jake Brewer of Open Gov states, “If we knew everyday how many lobbying dollars were being contributed on the healthcare debate… it would change the debate… people would be so much more aware and so much more participatory than they are now”.

Brewer also discusses the possibility of ‘real-time democracy’ in which we can see the decisions made by politicians instantaneously. In my opinion, the idea of real-time and naked transparency of functions may be utopic and unrealistic, however should be something we strive for to create a ‘truer’ democracy. By making the functions visible we are keeping the pyramid model, however it is a more ‘visible’ pyramid, this is representative of a traditional notion of transparency.

Make communication transparent

As the function of government becomes more transparent, there is a growing possibility to change the current pyramid model on which government is built. That is, rather than having communication from everyday people to decision makers travel through several conduits, regular people can be closer to the decision making process; more similar to a funnel than a pyramid. This presents some technical difficulties, as discussed in ‘open gov the movie’ one of the largest problems of this funnel model is converging data from potentially hundreds of thousands of people, into a format that can be navigated by less than 10.

There is no denying that each new innovation will bring new problems, and this funnel model would be no exception.

I think further research could be conducted into forms of social media which deal with massive amounts of traffic and content, such as twitter, facebook, pinterest and reddit, and then applying these means of content and traffic management into potential funnel models of government.


Styles, Catherine (2009) ‘A Government 2.0 idea – first, make all the functions visible’ <>

Quigley, Chris (2010) Open Gov the Movie <>


ARTS3091 Blog 6 – Framing Transversals

April 22, 2012 § Leave a comment

In the editorial of Fibreculture Journal found here, Andrew Murphie discusses transversals.  He explores what could be described as a ‘macro’ transversal: -new media, in all its broad forms, in relation to other industries. Murphy states that new media transverses more areas than ever before such as dance, city planning, celebrity, aesthetics and hacking.

While this explanation was helpful I struggled to clearly understand the concept due to the ‘macro’ nature of the topics being discussed. After the lecture I better understood the concept.

I believe a better way of explaining the idea of transversals & framing is through music.

A current genre of music can be seen as a frame. Music in this frame abides to particular rules, It is defined and simultaneously restricted by its frame. Take for example electro/house music; without getting too technical, we can safely say that electro/house is framed by electronically produced sound, strong emphasis on a 4:4 beat, a bpm of around 120 and usually a ‘drop’ (more on the transversal element of the ‘drop’ here).

In comparison swing  music is framed by woodwind and brass instruments, an emphasis on the 2nd  and 4th beat of a 4:4 bar and a strong rhythm component.

As murphie describes: “a transversal is a line that cuts other lines, perhaps across entire fields – bringing the fields together in a new way, recreating fields as something else.”

I would argue that a music transversal can be seen in the mixing of two music genres (frames); for example electroswing. Electroswing brings together  elements of separate frames in a new way.

I argue that transversals are only temporary, a transversal occurs when two frames are crossed, however as soon as meaning is created out of this new transversal, it becomes a frame itself.  By this I mean that electroswing is now a legitimate (if little known) genre, with its own framings. It is possible in the future that we will hear an electroswing/reggae transversal, which could then become its own frame. The way in which we see frames or transversalities is simply a matter of how we ‘frame’ them (oh the irony).

Transversals could be further explored in the area of thought and creativity. In a lecture on creativity John Cleese states ‘Creativity is like humor. In a joke, the laugh comes at a moment when you connect two different frameworks of reference in a new way’  and that ‘a new idea is connecting two separate ideas in a way that generates new meaning’. This would be interesting to consider, is there such a thing as original thought?

The lecture is long, but worth watching.

ARTS3091 Blog 5 – Data Dominance?

April 15, 2012 § Leave a comment

Where on the above diagram does the colour ‘red’ stop occurring?

You would have a hard time saying 0 is not red, but what about 5? If you were to say 5 is pink, then what about 7?

We could play this game continually, moving into smaller and smaller increments and it is still doubtful that we would find an absolute point where the colour ‘red’ ceases to occur.

How does this relate to this week’s topic of Data?

There seems to be a growing suggestion that data will ‘rule the world’ and we will live “a data driven life” (Wolf, 2010: Title)

My argument is that there are some things that cannot be quantified. We can attempt to quantify them, as Chris Anderson (2008) argues in wired magazine “With enough data the numbers speak for themselves.”, but I would say that there are simply some things that cannot be quantified, and for this reason I would argue that data is an imperfect tool for measuring the world and, while it will have a considerable impact, will not control every facet of our life.

For example, a physicist would tell you that the colour red does occur at a specific wavelength of light. A perceptual physcologist will tell you that a combination of signals sent from different cones will result in you perceiving red. And a web designer will tell you red is #FF0000.

These forms of data are all effective at telling us what red is, but cannot tell us when red ceases to be. For example these above data tools can tell us almost certainly that 0 is red and 1 is not red, however would struggle to discern where red stops being. This is because the tool of data does not allow for this distinction to be made.

It is clear that while data provides interesting insights (even if they may be flawed) into aspects of being , it is just another tool we can use to attempt to attain some notion of truth.  As Simon Rogers (2011) states, data journalism is the same as any other form of journalism, be it investigative, citizen, opinion or photo journalism “it’s just journalism”.

I will conclude by saying that the world is both subjective and objective, and to use an objective brush to paint a picture of the world would be to paint an incomplete picture.

For this reason I believe data will not completely take over journalism, self tracking, or many other aspects of life.

Wolf, Gary (2010) ‘The Data-Driven Life’, The New York Times, <>

Rogers, Simon (2011) ‘Data journalism at the Guardian: what is it and how do we do it?’, The Guardian, Datablog, July 28, <>
Anderson, Chris (2008) ‘The End of Theory: The Data Deluge Makes the Scientific Method Obsolete’ <>

ARTS3091 Blog 3 – Extended Mind

March 21, 2012 § Leave a comment

Extended Percept

This week I am blogging on Alva Noe’s readings & vlog, David Chalmer’s  lecture and the class lecture. I’ve decided to argue against the philosophical concept of the extended mind.  The extended mind argues, in a nutshell, that cognitive processes aren’t (all) in the head. That external processes (media technologies especially) are replacing what is normally done in the head (Chalmers, 2009). That our sense of self is controlled by our interactions with the external world (Murphy, 2012), and ‘that thoughts, feelings, experiences of taste and the like’ do not take place in the head at all(Noe, 2009).

I argue that instead of media technology extending the mind, it extends percepts.

Noe makes an analogy between the car and self, comparing the brain to the engine. He argues that driving takes place in the whole car not just the engine, and that as such ‘being’ or ‘self’ takes place in the whole body, not just the  brain. He is arguing that our senses are part of our extended (exterior) mind. This is partly true, but is by no means definitive. It is a commonly known fact that we can have a perception, without a percept. How would you explain basic illusions, or more complicated perceptions without sense such as dreaming, blind sight or phantom limbs? Perception can be purely internal, without external actors.

Chalmer’s main example that cognitive processes take place outside the head is that he can ‘remember’ numbers in his iphone. He also states that arguing against this fact is self defeating, but I disagree. Memory is a three part process. Encoding, storing and retrieving.  A media may be able to encode and store, but it cannot retrieve. (stay with me here)

I am arguing that media technology extends percepts, rather than our mind, through space and time. Chalmers argues that by writing down things we are extending our memory. I argue that we are extending the percept of the thing we are writing down. If someone tells us an address we are able to access that perception, albeit through a different medium, at any time and place. It does not extend our mind but rather extends the percepts of the world.

In summation; I believe that rather than extending the mind, we are extending percepts available to our mind in both space and time.



Noë, Alva and Solano, Marlon Barrios (2008) ‘dance as a way of knowing: interview with Alva Noë’, <>

Noë, Alva (2010) ‘Does thinking happen in the brain?’, 13:7 Cosmos and Culture <>

Chalmers, David (2009) ‘The Extended Mind Revisited [1/5], at Hong Kong, 2009’, <>

Murphey, A. (2012) Week 4 ARTS3091 Lecture, University of New South Wales


June 9, 2011 § Leave a comment


May 23, 2011 § Leave a comment

During our distribution and aggregation readings this week the most interesting thing I came across was this paper (Robinson, 2009) on Citemine. Citemine is a social networking marketing mechanism for reviewing research papers. It works much like any other social networking site (SNS) with user likes, dislikes and comments.  The creators however discovered that this would be meaningless if there were no repercussions to these interactions. Therefore to submit a research paper you have to stake a portion of your points which you receive when you sign up. You can then make these points back by selling a portion of the papers equity. You purchase a portion of equity by rating the paper you have read – essentially buying a share of the research. A paper is then accepted as of publishable standard if a pre-defined amount of shares are bought. Once this limit is met every time the paper is cited by another research paper each shareholder makes a dividend on their shares.  However if the predefined amount is not met then the paper is rejected and the people who have staked shares in the paper lose their points. This creates a two tiered ratings system of both research papers share price and how many points each individual has.

While the theory behind Citemine has been well thought out and looks coherent in an academic paper, the mechanism behind the theory has not succeeded. Citemine is now down, and according to its twitter account, has been so for around 10 months.  While the theory behind the site is a perfect example of distribution and aggregation, Citemine seems to have looked over self distribution and aggregation in social media circles. Citemines twitter feed has one post, there are no updates concerning the sites development and it has no followers. There are also no links to Citemine’s twitter feed outside of twitter itself. Also the paper discusses the concept of accountability for users actions within Citemine. While currency does create accountability within Citemine itself, there are no further repercussions in other social circles. Why not create a Citemine application within Linkedin to have Citemines users actions accountable in the real world, in much the same way Farmville is connected to Facebook and other Facebook users can see Farmville repercussions in there news feed. This would also double as effective, targeted marketing for a new and unknown product due to the fact that researchers using Linkedin will almost definetly have connections with other researchers who can then join Citemine.

Robinson, R. (2009) On the Design and Implementation of a Market Mechanism for Peer Review and Publishing [Online] [Accessed 22nd May 2011]

This is Not Data

May 10, 2011 § Leave a comment

A Translation of the conversation between Theaetetus and an Eleatic Stranger found here.

True= conventional meaning for true – etc correct and right
TrueR = means real or existing in reality
(further explanation in dialogue)

Original Translation
 Str. And you mean by true that which really is?  When you say trueR you mean that which is real?
 Theaet. Yes  Yes that which is trueR coincides with reality.
 Str. And the not true is that which is the opposite of the true?  And when you say not trueR you mean that which is not real?
 Theaet. Exactly.  Exactly – so the pipe in my hand is trueR – whilst this picture of a pipe is not.
 Str. A resemblance, then, is not really real, if, as you say, not true?  A resemblance or visualisation then, is not real and therefore in your sense, not trueR?
 Theaet. Nay, but it is in a certain sense.  No, but it is trueT in a certain sense.
 Str. You mean to say, not in a true sense?  You mean to say it is trueT, but not in a trueR sense?
 Theaet. Yes; it is in reality only an image.  Yes it does coincide with reality so exists as an image in a trueR sense, but only as an image. What is not trueR is what it represents.
 Str. Then what we call an image is in reality really unreal.  Then what we call an image is, in a trueR sense, not really trueR. So the pipe in this image is not trueR  , the image truthfullyT resembles, visualises or represents a pipe however is only trueR as an image
 Theaet. In what a strange complication of being and not – being we are involved! How strange is it that we are involved in everything that can exist in both trueR and untrueR forms!?
 Str. Strange! I should think so. See how, by his reciprocation of opposites, the many – headed Sophist has compelled us, quite against our will, to admit the existence of not – being.  I agree it is strange. See how, by representing many ways to interpret truth and reality our fallacious teacher has tricked us into admitting the existence of things which are not real (not trueR ).
 Theaet. Yes, indeed, I see  Yes indeed, I see.
 Str. The difficulty is how to define his art without falling into a contradiction.  The difficulty here is to define things which are trueR and untrueR  without  falling into the contradiction of saying there are things that exist which are not real.
 Theaet. How do you mean? And where does the danger lie?  What do you mean? Why must we not contradict ourselves?
 Str. When we say that he deceives us with an illusion, and that his art is illusory, do we mean that our soul is led by his art to think falsely, or what do we mean?  When we say he deceives us with this contradiction, and things visualised by art are trueT (however art is only trulyR  a visualisation and nothing else), which creates a contradiction, do we mean that we are led to believe visualisations cause us to think incorrectly?
 Theaet. There is nothing else to be said.  That is correct, there is nothing more to say.
 Str. Again, false opinion is that form of opinion which thinks the opposite of the truth: – You would assent?  So you are saying that incorrect opinion is an opinion that takes knowledge from things that are untrueR would you agree?
 Theaet. Certainly.  
 Str. You mean to say that false opinion thinks what is not  You mean to say incorrect opinion thinks trueT of things that are untrueR?
 Theaet. Of course.  Of course.

Theaetetus is saying, like was said in the lecture, that representations of meaning are often incorrect or untrue – much like what was said about Socrates and the perfect tree or imperfect visualisations of the tree.

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