McLuhan: Media as Art Forms

“The use of the term ‘mass media’ has been unfortunate. All media, especially languages, are mass media so far at least as their range in space and time is concerned. If by ‘mass media’ is meant a mechanized mode of a previous communication channel, then printing is the first of the mass media. Press, telegraph, wireless, gramophone, movie, radio, TV, are mutations of the mechanization of writing, speech, gesture. Insofar as mechanization introduces the ‘mass’ dimension, it may refer to a collective effort in the use of the medium, to larger audiences or to instantaneity of reception. Again, all of these factors may create difficulty of ‘feedback’ or lack of rapport between ‘speaker’ and audience. There has been very little discussion of any of these questions, thanks to the gratuitous assumption that communication is a matter of transmission of information, message or idea. This assumption blinds people to the aspect of communication as participation in a common situation. And it leads to ignoring the form of communication as the basic art situation which is more significant than the information or idea ‘transmitted’.”

McLuhan, Marshall. 1954. ‘Notes on the Media as Art Forms’. Explorations. Studies in Culture and Communication 2 (August): 6–13, 6. Edited by Edmund S. Carpenter.

(This is still one of my favourite McLuhan quotes. I makes a blast, and resets our intuitions. Mass mediation is just an effect of mechanization taking command – now go insert ‘cooperation’ instead of 1950s ‘communication‘!)

Repositories in Cooperation

Varieties of Cooperation poster It is my great pleasure to welcome you to “Repositories in Cooperation”. Our panel for “Varieties of Cooperation” developed out of preparatory work for the Collaborative Research Center „Media of Cooperation“, in which we have attempted to refocus and reappropriate Susan Leigh Star’s and James Griesemer’s original notion of the boundary object. Within our 2015 workshop on “The Translation of Boundary Objects” we have started to re-engage with a more specific understanding that returns to Star’s list of four type of boundary objects: repositories, ideal types, coincident boundaries and forms/labels. The results of this have now been published in German as “Grenzobjekte und Medienforschung”, along with a translation of ten seminal texts by Star and her collaborators. As Erhard Schüttpelz has shown in his commentary on “This is Not a Boundary Object” all four types deal with the relation between modularity and extendability, with the relation between “parts” and “wholes”. [1]

„Repositories in Cooperation“ weiterlesen

The Cooperation Coordination Riddle, according to Google Ngram

I was just looking up some etymological details concerning “cooperation” and “coordination.” Google Ngram still is a rather intransparent source, but using it along with the Oxford English Dictionary gives a nice quantitative vs. qualitative account. This blogpost comes without interpretation, but with an embedded ngram. Consider it just being a trace of my work (or Google’s).

Credit Card Mobilities

The Swiss Federal Archives have been publishing a video documentation of their „ICT@Admin“ conference. I had the privilege of being a part of this, so I include the video and abstract of my talk here. A complete documentation is also online, and the overall YouTube playlist is highly recommended.

CREDIT CARD MOBILITIES (Sebastian Gießmann, Siegen, March 26 2015)

The talk sketches out a praxeological history of the credit card, with an emphasis on its mediating qualities and operational status within bureaucratical frameworks. Temporal borrowing via credit card is regarded as a highly dynamic social technology that produces emergent topologies through distributed mobile payments. The formative years of the American credit card (1950-1975) are analyzed along with approaches from ethnomethodology (Harold Garfinkel) and actor network theory (Michel Callon). Cooperative media practices are key to understanding the relation between the administrative handling of „accounts“ and emerging social networks. This includes (1) Dining, traveling, and charging, (2) Accounting for trust and credit, (3) Mass mailing and advertising new ways of payment, (4) Building „co-opetitive“ platforms for networks and (5), the digital momentum of credit cards as immutable mobiles.