Technology and Culture Reading Group

TCRG – School of Culture and Communication – University of Melbourne

Month: July, 2013

TCRG July 30: Lev Manovich interviewed

by lukevanryn

This week we will be reading a short interview with Lev Manovich on the topic of methodology in software studies from earlier this month. This comes in advance of his forthcoming publication Software Takes Control (2014), and follows from his previous work, Software Takes Command (2008). Hopefully this interview will develop a discussion on the various methodologies that are used in our various disciplines and perhaps a more nuanced approach to software studies. 

“I also want to understand what media is today conceptually, after its “softwarization.” Do the concepts of media developed to account for industrial-era technologies, from photography to video, still apply to media that is designed and experienced with software? Do they need to be updated, or completely replaced by new more appropriate concepts? [… ]In short: does “media” still exist?”

Sorry for the last minute notice, but the piece is fairly short. A few additional pieces have been posed for the weeks ahead: A reading fromSoftware Takes Command, Agamben’s “What is a Paradigm?”, or perhaps a further examination of methodologies for more quantitative approaches to media studies. Input is very welcome.

[Link] Rhizome.org – Software Takes Command: an Interview with Lev Manovich, by Michael Connor

TCRG July 23: Patterns (Jeffries / Stenner)

by lukevanryn

800px-Fractal_BroccoliThis week we’re taking another two short readings from Inventive Methods. Both address the concept of “pattern”.

By playing the difference between gathering and dispersal, pattern can add a little order to chaos and a little chaos to order. (Stenner, 137).

Janis Jeffries’ chapter emphasises “patterning” as a mode of perception, which opens up distinctions between personal and professional writing, and between research and practice. Paul Stenner addresses “pattern” as a question of method for science, drawing on Weber, Kuhn, and Elias to argue for a “cosmology of immanence” (145). The chapters seem relevant to previous TCRG discussions of “vibes”, “moves” and “gestures” in academic writing. Read either or both!

We meet as usual at 5pm in the Pierre Gorman room.

[PDF] Stenner, P. (2012). Pattern. In C. Lury & N. Wakeford (Eds.), Inventive Methods: the happening of the social (pp. 136-146). New York: Routledge.

[PDF] Jeffries, J. (2012). Pattern, patterning. In C. Lury & N. Wakeford (Eds.), Inventive Methods: the happening of the social (pp. 125-135). New York: Routledge.

tcrg June 16: Phrase (Fuller and Goriunova)

by lukevanryn

We continue our browse through Inventive Methods with this chapter on “Phrase” by Matthew Fuller and Olga Goriunova. With the term “phrase”, the authors hope to bridge the technical and the social, to test the formalisation or grammatisation (cf. Stiegler) of relation “between people, ideas, objects and processes” (167). The “phrase” might therefore resemble Flusser’s concept of the “key”, which enables action across scales (as a light switch connects people and electrons).

We see them [phrases] as articulating a crucial relation between the formal and the subjective, between the logical and the experimental, between the numerical and the gestural (Fuller and Goriunova, 2012: 163).

Through a discussion of dance, linguistics, voting machines and sorting algorithms, Fuller and Goriunova’s concept of the phrase aims to enable theory in the present moment, with attention to material that is not locked into “laws and look-up tables” (169).

We meet as usual at 5pm in the Pierre Gorman Room, 1888 Building. All welcome.

[PDF] Fuller, M., & Goriunova, O. (2012). Phrase. In C. Lury & N. Wakeford (Eds.), Inventive Methods: the happening of the social (pp. 163-171). New York: Routledge.

tcrg July 9: Set (Mackenzie)

by lukevanryn

This week we read Adrian Mackenzie’s chapter “Set” from the recent collection Inventive Methods (Lury and Wakeford, eds.). This collection aims to contribute tools to investigate “the happening of the social world — its ongoingness, relationality, contingency and sensuousness” (Lury and Wakeford, “Introduction”, p. 2).

Mackenzie discusses the Getting Things Done productivity system in relation to broader questions of the way that sets mediate everyday life. These sets vary in complexity from last.fm playlists to Pubmed. GTD, according to Mackenzie, addresses the proliferation of tasks both from outside (from one’s peers, boss, pets) and from the inside (desires, tastes, projects) by ensuring that sets remain closed, and open only at defined junctures (223-4).

If the database, with all its tables, schemas and queries, attempts to construct open-ended processes of set-based relations, it might be that the personal productivity system, with all its lists and folders, attempts to seal out of the productive self the currents and shocks of rapidly transforming patterns of mobility, communication, production and governance generated by database-driven processes. (225)

We meet as usual in the Pierre Gorman Room, 1888 at 5pm.

[PDF] Mackenzie, A. (2012). Set. In C. Lury & N. Wakeford (Eds.), Inventive Methods: the happening of the social (pp. 219-231). New York: Routledge.