New Network Theory – Opening


The Masters of Media are at the New Network Theory Conference – organized by Network Cultures, ASCA and the Media Studies department at the University of Amsterdam (that’s us!).

Geert Lovink introduced the program as an ambitious attempt to reinvent network theory – a post-Castellsian theory, if you will – before Jan Simons gave a brief history of ASCA the Media Studies department. And now we’re off…

We will be trying to cover as much as possible, so check back often.

New Network Theory

New Network TheoryNew Network TheoryNew Network TheoryNew Network TheoryNew Network Theory

View the whole New Network Theory set at Flickr (more to come the next two days).

Net Network TheoryNoshir Contractor is the first speaker today, here to present MTML meets Web 2.0: Theorizing social processes in multidimensional networks.

Noshir begins with a story of the social life of (technologically-enhanced) pets. Your smart-tagged dog can meet other dogs and exchange information. When your dog returns home, that information can be downloaded, you can learn about your dogs’ friends, the owners of those dogs, set up dog dates and so on. What is new today, for us even more than for pets, is the extent to which we use technology to find new social networks rather than cementing existing ones. And this creates the need for a multi-theoretical, multi-level approach to understanding social behavior.


nnt-0207Katy Börner, with her presentation Global Brain Pressures: Towards Scholarly Marketplaces, asks what the relationship is between knowledge and the individual, and knowledge and networks. Over a long enough timeline, one sees increasing specialization, and thus a changing perception of how knowledge is produced.


We heard the rumor that some speakers and/or visitors would like to share their pictures with us. That would be absolutely great. So, if you have any photos you would like to share with us, please e-mail us at mastersofmedia [at] gmail [dot] com. We will put them online and share them with you. Thank you!

You can also create your own free Flickr account and share your photos with us in the New Network Theory Flickr group.

The photo stream of the event can be found at Flickr.

A new batch of Piet Zwart master students was released into the wild yesterday. Worm(Rotterdam) hosted the temporary “invasion”, as course director Florian Cramer jokingly refered to it. The work of about 9 students, I neglected to count them precisely, was exhibited throughout the building, including the Worm office space.


Sometimes, one needs to let the youtube do the talking. Suffice to say, we’re in the thick of it.

44422435 to nowhereIn response to last weeks admittance of their work “44422435 to nowhere” to the Rhizome ArtBase, Entter told me that finally it seems “we are artists and not fucking nerd losers”.
Since 2002, Entter’s fields of research and development include, amongst many other subjects, vjing, for which they basically only use ROMS of old videogames and pixel art. This is deliberately done to explore the intrinsic visual language of videogames; a cryptic and primitive style that comes from the machines own DNA.
“44422435 to nowhere” is an experimental electronic artwork made in collaboration with Swedish 8bit musician Goto80 and his much abused instrument, the Commodore 64. The session took 3 hours but is condensed into only a few minutes. With the ‘Retro Replay’ cartridge for C64 they gained full access to the RAM, to manipulate graphics and functionality. The blue screen that appears at some points is the interface of the cartridge and the lists of letters and numbers is the data in the RAM. All manipulations were made by putting random symbols into the memory or by altering the screen graphically with PETSCII (an alternative for ASCII).
On September 23th, Entter and Goto80 will perform live in the CODA museum in Apeldoorn (NL), for the opening of a wallpaper exhibition ‘Behang, van plint tot plafond’, which will be an interesting break from their ‘normal’ setting.

“44422435 to nowhere”, (Entter and Goto80, 20 July, 2007).

This is a review of Henry Jenkins’ book Fans, Bloggers, and Gamers: Exploring Participatory culture (2006). Henry Jenkins is the co-director of the MIT Comparative Media Studies program. Fans, Bloggers, and Gamers is a compilation of several essays, including his previous work on fandom, Textual Poachers: Television Fans and Participatory Culture (1992).

The introduction of the book is entitled as the confession of ACA/fan, which already gives away Jenkins’ personal interest in fandom. Jenkins is certainly not the first scholar whose work centered on fandom, but is one of the few who took fandom seriously, even within the context of science and knowledge. What makes his work stand out in comparison to previous studies on fandom is that his work captures fans’ experience as a source for active participation in producing meaning. Rather seeing fans (or audience) as passive recipients of the media texts, Jenkins argues that fans like “poachers” occupy someone else’s property and adapt/alter it to suit their own taste. This approach provides a useful insight into the position of fans in relation to media text, which as Jenkins emphasizes, is not one-way streamed. This also means that corporate media hegemony is contested by the consumers of the texts, and that meaning of the text is not a top-down dictation, but rather a constructive one that requires fans’ participation and input.


Real time, cyber time, machine time, clock time, chronos time, frankentime, mythic time, objective time, natural time, subjective time, present time, timeless time, being time, bullet time, internet time, chronoscopic time, global standard time, local time…are you still there? 24/7, Time and Temporality in The Network Society (Robert Hassan and Ronald E. Purser, Stanford Business Books 2007), is a lovely thought provoking anthology about refllections on time and space in the networked society.
This work moves easily across diverse ranges of subjects, from the philosophical, mathematical, cultural, and political to personal, zenbuddhistic and social, with references to – among others – Castells, Baudrillard, Brian Eno, Dynasty, the Matrix, Bourdieu, Manovich, Borges and off course a lot of Paul Virillio.

Its About Time, Bil Spinhoven’s Timestretcher

Like Bill Spinhoven’s Time Stretcher, developed in 1988, which visualizes the impact of time on space while blurring your vision along the way, this book tries to stretch your mind in all its different directions. The general division can be made along the bias of the technological and the personal. On one side it handles the impact of repercussions of the rate of change in rapidly accelerating modern life and its influences on modern society. On the other hand it researches the mathematical background of technological functions as for example the Viterbi Algorithm.


This summer I was part of the Digital Methods Initiative, a summer school program that aims to contribute to doing research into the “natively digital”. One of the projects I participated in was: Diagnosing the Condition of Iraq: The web view. The Clandestine Diary of an Ordinary Iraqi (2003), is a nice case to both broaden and ground this research.
The blog ‘Where is Raed?’, from which the book The Clandestine Diary of an Ordinary Iraqi draws most of its content, is a personal account by Salam Pax, a pseudonym of a (at the time of writing) Baghdad based Iraqi. I came relatively late to his ‘Where is Raed?’ blog; the war had already started and the blog was already featured in Wired magazine, when I found out about it through a random blogroll. In his book (and blog) Salam describes his daily lives; his love for Bjork and Massive Attack and his preparations and encounters in the war, starting 6 months before the war and proceeding four months into the actual war. While the overall responses to his blog have been widely varied, ranging from disbelieve and anger to encouragement, to me, the most striking was how much I could relate to his writings. Salam writes about the same music I listen to and uses a somewhat cynical humor I can appreciate. This book is therefore a valuable first hand account on the way an Iraqi man experienced the build up to the war and the war itself.


Cover We the Media
In his book ‘We the Media: Grassroots journalism by the People’, Dan Gilmor describes the development in the so called grassroots journalism. Gilmors goal is:

“[…]to persuade you that the collision of journalism and technology is having major consequences for three constituencies: journalists, newsmakers, and the audience.”

The book can roughly be divided into three parts. First Gilmor gives an overview of the developments in the new media area, leading up to now. The second part consists of an overview of the possibilities existing within the current new media. Not only does he give examples in which the opportunities offered by new media become clear, he also shows examples in which somethings didn’t work out quite the way it was expected. These cases can also be very useful for anyone wanting to participate in the new media developments so hopefully these pitfalls can be avoided. The last part of the book is dedicated to the future of new media. Gilmor doesn’t speculate too much. He is quite aware of the unexpected ways in which new media has developed in the last couple of years.

De Belastingdienst, de NS, minister Rouvoet, Google, De Nederlandsche Bank, Schiphol, Maurice de Hond, Mark Rutte, het voorstel implementatie bewaarplicht verkeersgegevens, de plannen voor het Elektronisch Kinddossier, het voorstel nieuwe bevoegdheden voor de AIVD en het PNR Data Agreement zijn dit jaar door de jury van de Big Brother Awards genomineerd voor een Award.

Met de Awards worden personen, bedrijven, overheden en voorstellen te kijk gezet die het afgelopen jaar bij uitstek controle op burgers en inbreuken op privacy hebben bevorderd. In iedere categorie wordt op vrijdag 21 september 2007 één winnaar bekendgemaakt tijdens de openbare uitreiking om 20:00 in De Balie te Amsterdam.

Friday 21st of September, 20:00h @ de Balie, Amsterdam.

blogosphereBlogosphere can be seen as a new and important element of the new public sphere. On a blog people are able to not only comment on public affairs or read about what they find interesting. On a blog they actually have the possibility to create and manipulate their own, either real or fictive, identity and share it with the world. In doing so they help shape and explore the boundaries and the nature of what could be seen as the new public sphere. “The public sphere, that could be seen as a body of ‘private persons’ assembled to discuss matters of ‘public concern’ or ‘common interest”(according to Habermas in Nancy Fraser pp. 60), takes on new shapes in modern day global communities and according to Michael Keren it is an “important step in the construction of an updated political philosophy on the public/private debate”(Keren pp.10) to look into the way people post their live stories or interests on a day to day basis as a component of the public domain.

Although the need for exploration of the blogosphere is made clear by Keren in his introduction he also warns his readers for the possible problems that this exploration will face. Because of the diversity of blogosphere it is almost impossible to characterize the public domain arising in this new medium. There are thousands and thousands of web logs circulating on the internet owned by thousands and thousands of different people who all have their different motives to start a blog and different interests to write about. The blogosphere consists of a seemingly endless amount of links the information flow is hard to follow because of the size and diversity. To give a clear cut overview of the public domain arising on “the blogoshere” is almost impossible. The author has no choice butt to be satisfied with giving only a handful of examples of early twenty-first century identities. (more…)

cover of LinkedBarabási – a physics professor and has build an honourable reputation in the field of network theory -describes two paradigms. A world of a (1) ‘random network theory’ that Paul Erdös and Alfréd Rényi – two mathematical geniuses – have introduced. This is based on the idea that nodes within a network interconnect randomly. According to Barabási, this notion was fallible.

Our tiny robot returned from the Web with a network that was drastically different from the predictions of both [Erdös and Rényi. red] models. It carried home a bunch of […] nodes with an extraordinarily large number of links” [2002:54]

He supported the notion of (2) a network distributed by a ‘power law’ model. Apparently, networks are depending on special nodes. These nodes submerge on the Web (Yahoo, Amazon), telephone networks and social networks (popular people). This breakthrough of using the ‘power law’ distribution in relation to ‘scale free’ networks has brought about new ways of thinking of living organisms, social networks of people and social contacts, economic networks of business relations and terrorist networks.

Barabási is able to express himself in a clear manner, without using difficult jargon or mathematical gibberish. His findings are supported by amusing anecdotes. For example, the ‘six degrees of separation’ gives an interesting inside in the number of connected networks that are necessary to randomly assemble world citizens. I have to face the fact that there are only six networks between myself and someone like president Bush! These findings will keep me informed on network theory.

So does Arvind R initiator of the Creative Criminal weblog. He currently lives in Chennai (formerly known as Madras, located at the Coromandel Coast of the Bay of Bengal).

I have found two interesting remarks which (1) could illustrates his point of view and (2) could explane his choice of content.

“Smitten by the creative bug a decade ago, I have been treading the hallowed grounds of advertising ever since. A keenness to broaden my horizons is now making me look towards distant lands.” [Creative Criminal]


“The very point of writing this is to get noticed.” [Creative Criminal]

In this individual blog, he emphasizes the beauty and ugliness of commercials and advertisement. In this post, I am not going to criticize the ethics or aesthetics of commercials and advertisement. I am going to briefly analyse the Creative Criminal weblog, because the idea behind this blog is brilliant, but nevertheless seems to have too many flaws.
My criteria, which I have come across at, are influenced by (1) Timothy Ferriss and (2) of Phil Haack. By analysing the Creative Criminal blog, I can point out its flaws, and thereby help this blog rise to its potential.

  1. How about the usability? A couple of basic functions are not available that should improve the navigation.
    • The search bar is missing, which – in my opinion – is crucial to properly navigate through the blog’s history.
    • There is no tag-cloud present, which gives a quick overall view of the content on the blog.
    • There is no categorization of the content. It now will take ages to retrieve certain posts.
  2. What has the upper hand? The Quality or Quantity of postings. Arvind publishes an average of four posts a month. That is not a lot, but the content is always interesting. He has posted several interesting links that lead towards similar, better looking blogs (Frederik Samuel / Adrants / Ads of the world / Adverbox). The reason why I am still ‘a member’ of his blog is simple. According to me, Arvind selects the best content of these blogs, which find their way into his weekly posts. So in terms of content, he is in favour of quality instead of quantity.
  3. Which blog-tools should have been implemented? And which are not useful? I think he should use another utility, such as WordPress. It currently has no searchbar, tag-cloud or categorization. These basic functions should improve the blog’s usability.
  4. What are the visual features in this blog? Are there any visual features lacking? Does form follows function? The publisher has chosen not to use a personal logo, which – in my opinion – makes the blog visually less coherent and less recognizable for promotional activities. Every post is based on one or more (motion-) pictures, which are accompanied by text as opposed to text being accompanied by pictures. This decision seems logical considering the subject. So, form follows function…
  5. What about its literary content? As we look at the content of an average post, the publisher avoids putting forward a proposition. That is why – in my opinion – he is not able to elicit many comments on his posts. I would suggest to end the posts by putting forward clear propositions, in order to trigger comments. He surely wants to generate lots of traffic, because his blog is making use of advertisements.

Now I will end this brief analysis by summing up my suggestions:

  1. Stop using Google’s Blogger utility
  2. Insert a search-bar, categorization and a tag-cloud
  3. Start using a personal logo to make the blog more coherent and more attractive for promotional purposes.
  4. Elaborate more often on the subject matter and start putting forward propositions to elicit comments.

Brand equals Interface? According to the Information Architects Japan design agency, brands are not mere reflections of their graphical attributes (Logo’s, color schemes, etcetera). A corporate identity or product is just as much defined by its interface. This means design should not be a purely graphical discipline, but also focus on usability values. This is especially apparent on the Internet, where an unstoppable surge of information has been cast in an equally chaotic set of design guidelines. The challenge of interface is relevant to all web developers looking to maximize their presence on the web. In short, creating a strong brand.


“ intends to be a unified resource space for anyone interested in the visualization of complex networks. The project’s main goal is to leverage a critical understanding of different visualization methods, across a series of disciplines, as diverse as Biology, Social Networks or the World Wide Web. I truly hope this space can inspire, motivate and enlighten any person doing research on this field.” (Manuel Lima)

Juist omdat er zoveel verschillende soorten blogs zijn, met ook verschillende onderwerpen, vormen en doelen, hier een vergelijking tussen 5 blogs. [in het nederlands geschreven omdat het [bijna]alleen maar Nederlandse blogs zijn. ] De achterliggende vraag hierbij is of het onderwerp van een blog verschil maakt in de keuze van uiterlijk en indeling. Er is enkel gekeken naar de visuele kant van de blogs en niet de inhoud.
– Blog met kritische filmpjes over allerlei onderwerpen.
– Visueel een hele mooie site. Wordt ook heel regelmatig geupdate. Wel op een manier dat het uiterlijk hetzelfde blijft maar met kleine veranderingen.
– Indeling handig. ‘Boven de folt’ altijd het eerste bericht, en hieronder de meest recente andere berichten.
– nadeel: de rechterkant is een beetje vreemd ingedeelt. Het eerste stuk is heel groot ‘van de makers’ en is dus eigenlijk een soort reklame. ‘Dossiers gemist’ is ook vrij groot aanwezig waardoor je minder snel naar de ingezonden stukken kunt, welke toch het meest belangrijk zijn als je andere dingen wilt zien.
– Wel reklame op de site, maar niet heel overdreven waardoor de aandacht van de posts niet wordt afgeleid.
– De comments onder de filmpjes als je er naar gekeken hebt, maar pas best ver naar onderen. Ze nemen veel plaats in ook al zijn het maar korte comments.

“Emergence - the connected lives of ants, brains, cities and software” by Steven Johnson (New York: Scribner, 2001)

“Emergence – the connected lives of ants, brains, cities and software”
Steven Johnson
New York: Scribner, 2001

Are you familiar with the situation in which you’re having a talk over the hedge with that neighbor that emerges from behind it. Whom you never talk to, but suddenly he starts talking about his nephew and his classmate and how that classmate is related to someone that sounds like your 2nd grade teacher. And so on and so on. That pretty much describes the way how Steven Johnson links everything together; slime molds to Manchester, ants to SimCity and neighborhoods to TIVO. And whenever you think you couldn’t care less about how an ant finds the quickest way to the food area, he’ll tell you how to make sense of it all.

The main issue he is trying to get at, is what he calls ’emergence’.

Six Degrees
Six Degrees: The science of a connected age
Duncan J. Watts, Norton, 2003

Duncan J. Watts (1971-) is a professor of sociology at Columbia University, head of the CDG Collective Dynamics Group and in 2003 he wrote the book Six Degrees: The Science of a Connected Age (Norton, 2003). He holds a B.Sc in physics from the University of New South Wales, and a Ph.D. in Theoretical and Applied Mechanics from Cornell University. In 1998, in conjunction with Steven Strogatz of Cornell University, Watts formalized the small world phenomenon in the celebrated Nature paper. (bron: wiki)

The title of the book is based on the Six Degrees of Separation Theory, it refers to the idea that, if a person is one “step” away from each person he or she knows and two “steps” away from each person who is known by one of the people he or she knows, then everyone is no more than six “steps” away from each person on Earth. You can find lots of links on the Internet with an interest in the Six Degrees Theory, there is even a Six Degrees Hyves.

Julian Bleeker from Near Future Laboratory presented “Mobzombies” at Picnic Academy 2007. Mobzombies is a hand-held videogame that is enabled by motion awareness. In the game, the user functions as a human joystick and (literally) runs away from the zombies displayed on the hand-held portable screen.

This workshop is technical. It should include RFID. However, the aim of the projects is to make something for people. After some great technical and sometimes geeky first ideas for the projects, in the morning session we looked at the projects individually to see if we can twist the concepts into something more social. The aim is not only to create cool hardware and software gadgets, because the number of geeks that want to know how it actually works is small. Rather, the projects have to be meaningful to the audience on a personal and social level.

connection cushion

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Projects are ready to be prototyped and build. This monday all participants are working individually or with a small number of people on parts of the projects. You might think a “hackers camp” only includes hardware and software hacking and tweaking. Today there was however some old style building going on with hammers and saws. Transforming our hackers into wood hackers.

Erik: “we’re doing some serious wood hacking”

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