Archive for April, 2012

Week 8: Micropolitics & Collobration’s effect on Creativity and Production in the Media

Organisation in our modern regulated 21st Century world is seen as a good thing, a positive step toward success – kind of like a socio-economic-political colonization that while suppressing our individuality results in a greater good because apparently collaboration is what achieves results.

Thomas Jellis who writes about organisation in media and society argues that:

“Micropolitics, or the creation of techniques for collaboration, involve experimentation and an openness to be experimental. Micropolitics then, offers a point of departure for a new kind of politics.”[1]

So what does this mean? Well if we are to accept Jellis’ notion that micropolitics, which facilitates collaboration, involve experimentation and being open to the processes that allow it. Thus, if we are to participate in work and achieve results through collaboration, which is conducted via elements of organisation, then we must participate in micropolitics. However, this is not a revolutionary proposal as increasingly at schools, constantly at universities and daily in the workplace people are participating in teams in order to achieve results; that have there own ‘mini’ or micropolitics. In Susan Cain’s article she highlights a problem with this method of organized production:

“SOLITUDE is out of fashion. Our companies, our schools and our culture are in thrall to an idea I call the New Groupthink, which holds that creativity and achievement come from an oddly gregarious place. Most of us now work in teams, in offices without walls, for managers who prize people skills above all. Lone geniuses are out. Collaboration is in. But there’s a problem with this view. Research strongly suggests that people are more creative when they enjoy privacy and freedom from interruption. And the most spectacularly creative people in many fields are often introverted…They’re extroverted enough to exchange and advance ideas, but see themselves as independent and individualistic. They’re not joiners by nature.”[2]

 But what about the media you ask? Well despite the existence of section editors and sub-editors in print media, whether they be magazines or newspapers, the editor ultimately makes the final decision as to the appearance of a cover or what content makes the final edition; it doesn’t go down to a vote in the editorial room or a ballot amongst contributors and editors. Similarly, in looking at the rise of blogs, particularly technology and fashion, there is little room for collaboration or micropolitics to be engaged with because these are a medium that rely on subjective personal ratings and opinions; that created by a team of individuals would blinker transversal relations. Therefore I am lead to the following conclusion:

Despite the belief in teamwork and collaboration that extends from our human history of politics, military feats and sporting success, organisation stifles creativity, spontaneity and the inevitable consequence/product from happening. Yet is essential in applying the necessary scrutinty to our works and ideas.

[1] Jellis, Thomas (2009) ‘Disorientation and micropolitics: a response’, spacesof[aesthetic]experimentation, <>

[2] Cain, Susan (2012) ‘The Rise of the New Groupthink’, The New York Times, January 13, <> (and antidote to all the above chumminess!)


Week 7: Transversality – Politics’ Reformation

Politics has been reformed, maybe not enough to some, or in the wrong way to others but nonetheless it has been reformed through the transversal affordances provided my technological advances that had created new media; like Twitter and Facebook. In fact this renaissance of interest in politics has resulted in it becoming ‘alive’ again in the 21st Century, through the 24/7 scrutiny and limelight that is created by the impact of new media.

Murphie notes, in his Editorial on transversality, that Genosko determines:

“Blinkers prevent transversal relations; they focus by severely circumscribing a visual field. The adjustment of them releases the existing, but blinkered, quantity of transversality’. Again, removing the blinkers, increasing the ‘coefficient of transversality’, requires a certain rigor. In our field this is perhaps simply a matter of appropriate responses to the way new media technologies keep removing the blinkers for us in the world at large.”[1]

This quote in its entirety demonstrates why social media has been adopted as an avenue by politicians to reach a different audience, or provided their intended audience/constituents with constant updates on what they are doing. If we look at the example of Federal Opposition Leader & Warringah MP Tony Abbott MHR, whose tweets are fed directly through to his Facebook (see image 1 &2 below), he uses his twitter to communicate directly with voters whilst waiting in the airport terminal or when on his way home from a public event. An example of how politics has had their blinkers to the public removed or reduced as they are more accessible through their communication; no longer viewed as sitting down in Canberra out of touch.

Image 1:

Image 2:

However, what is more evident in the adoption of twitter, Facebook and other social media sites, with Kevin Rudd the first Federal Leader to have a social media page on (created in 2006) is that as Phelps discusses technological advances and new media have provided a “…truly new and surprising way to tell stories”[2]. Therefore, a transversal is created as the political atmosphere or even politics is reformed as “new lines cross between older disciplines, older fields, older cultural practices”.[3]

Finally, Sawers’ argues that, “there are some ways in which we massively overstate the impact of social media – and Twitter in particular”[4] with the investigation into MP’s expenses in the UK and into Wikileaks having “…a significant digital element and were stories of the digital age; but they weren’t social media generated stories.”[5] This demonstrates how politics through social media, particularly Twitter and Facebook, is demonstrative of transversality’s effect on politics through the affordances of new media, previously confined to print, radio and television, is allowing “new lines to cross older disciplines and older fields”[6]. If you’ve ever watched the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Q&A or visited their Twitter page you would know what I’m talking about, the at home audience are able to tweet panelists/politicians directly and politicians not on the program tweeting about the show or responding to audience tweets.

[1] Murphie, Andrew (2006) ‘Editorial’, [on transversality], the Fibreculture Journal, 9 <>

[3] Murphie, Andrew (2006) ‘Editorial’, [on transversality], the Fibreculture Journal, 9 <>

[6] Murphie, Andrew (2006) ‘Editorial’, [on transversality], the Fibreculture Journal, 9 <>

Week 6: Are you data-driven?

Data. It controls our life, whether we like it or not data is what drives our lives, through its impact on the economy, society, politics and particularly technology.

In Paul Edwards 2010 book ‘A Vast Machine’ he makes makes the following statement, in page xix of his introduction, that is crucial to understanding why data is both crucial and relevant:

  • “If you use a lot of sensors, you are going to need data models to make their signals into meaningful information.”

Yet you are still asking why data? Data has been around since humans have been able to archive information but what has changed the game is the fact data can now be gathered, recorded and published almost instantaneously through web-based technology; which through wireless or mobile devices has changed the way we live. Don’t believe me? Next time you are home on a friday or saturday night watch you Facebook News Feed carefully and see what establishments you’re friends are checking into, how many people have checked in that night and how many people like that Facebook page. If you then go to a site like its more than likely that establishment will have a high rating. However, its highly probable you may have already been to the venue without checking an online rating because your perceived view about a ‘good’ or ‘cool’ venue will have already been influenced by looking at who checks in and the photos published from the event.

Similarly, Conrad Quilty-Harper (a data mapping reporter) determines that data is driving the lives of families in America with the LA times running a data assessment about the quality of teaching by gathering data from:

“test scores from 600,000 students between 2002 and 2009, allowing it to calculate “value added” scores, or a measure of the progress students have made between different stages of education. This analysis shows that some schools have improved the academic achievement of its students at a greater rate than other, more respected schools.”


This would allow parents to make an educated decision about where they send their kids to school based on the data recorded and obtained. In Australia the Federal Government’s my website does the same thing by making overall NAPLAN scores for schools accessible to parents, teachers, educators and other stakeholders.

Finally, if you still think you may not be what I like to call “LUI” or living under the influence of data lets look at another example of data’s impact on our everyday lives, Gary Wolf documents Ben Lipkowitz’s 2005 purchase of a electronic datebook “…on a trip to Tokyo on May 11, 2005, which he started using to keep a record of his actions. Instead of entering his future appointments, he entered his past activities, creating a remarkably complete account of his life. In one sense this was just a normal personal journal, albeit in a digital format and unusually detailed. But the format and detail made all the difference. Lipkowitz eventually transferred the data to his computer, and now, using a few keyboard commands, he can call up his history”. Which is what Facebook’s implementation of the Timeline, implemented on 24 January 2012, has done for us by chronologically ordering the content on our individual Facebook pages that collates the data and segments the information. Furthermore, if you don’t perceive that the information on your Facebook is valuable, on the 24th of January Facebook advise users they would have “7 days to preview what’s there now. Giving you a chance to add or hide whatever you want before anyone else sees it”. Moral of the story anything that gives information or can be scrutinised to reach a conclusion is data, and if you go back and delete things of your Facebook, or make a decision based on online statistics: YOU”VE BEEN DRIVEN BY DATA!


Paul Macdonald