CATS Logbook – Session 6 – Contextualising Digital Culture 3: Futures

Our 6th CATS session was the conclusion of our three part series of lectures on “Contextualising Digital Culture”. The final lecture of the series dealt with “Futures”.

I was unable to be at this specific lecture due to the lecture conflicting with a local games design focused exhibition in the city of Hull (which you can read about here). I however was able to download the presentation and cover this myself in my own time.

First of all, I considered the question “What is the future of the virtual revolution?”. There are three key themes within the answer to this question. Cyberculture, gamification and social media. These are then further broken down.

The definition of cyberculture is “The culture that has emerged from technology.”. I learned that there is a relationship between science and and cultural/media studies.

An extension of cyberculture in fiction would be the genre “Cyberpunk”. The definition of cyberpunk is “a genre of science fiction set in a lawless subculture of an oppressive society dominated by computer technology.”.

After this, I was introduced to a few examples of cyberculture. This included mechanical extensions of people in the form of bionics (Stelarc, 1990s – Use of technology to program mechanical extensions to his body), films such as The Matrix and 2001, A Space Odyssey, which introduced novel fictional ways of interacting with technology (The Matrix, life existing in a computer program) and also changed perspectives of how exactly we may interact with technology in the future (2001, A Space Odyssey, interacting with AI) and also real life examples of how technology (AI in particular) is being developed today (Google’s Driverless Car, AI system “Angelina”, which developed its work game).

After this, Gamification is introduced. The definition of gamification is “the application of typical elements of game playing (e.g. point scoring, competition with others, rules of play) to other areas of activity, typically as an online marketing technique to encourage engagement with a product or service.”. Gamification applies gaming concepts to things that are not games in order to make tasks more appealing.

Some examples of gamification was then introduced. This included a “Pepsi” promotion, which allowed users to voice their opinions on TV events that Pepsi sponsored. The “players” are rewarded for leaving their comments and the top comments are featured on air and in advertisement breaks. Another example we were shown was how Tumblr uses a leaderboard type system for top blogs. Another example is an iPhone app called “Epic Win”, which is a task management app that rewards you based on tasks completed.

Next, I was to consider “The Rise of Social Media”.  There are ethical implications to consider in relation to the use of social media. An example of this is how Blackberry Messenger (BBM) was used during the London Riots in 2011. The police were looking to Facebook and Twitter to try and get an idea of what was going on, but they neglected to check up on BBM, which it is believed was the primary method of  communication during the riots.

BBM allows people to connect via the exchanging of a BBM PIN. This replaced text messaging for many teams with a Blackberry device as BBM is free and is part of a much larger community than text messaging.

Another ethical issue to consider is Apple’s use of Foxconn to produce the iPhone. Workers at Foxconn are subject to long hours and poor working conditions, as well as monotonous labour. To date, there have been 17 suicides at the plant.

To finish, I watched two TED Talks on the future of social media and the future of gaming from Sherrie Turkle and Jane McGonigal respectively. I will provide my opinions on these in a seperate post.

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One Response to CATS Logbook – Session 6 – Contextualising Digital Culture 3: Futures

  1. Pingback: CATS Logbook – Session 6 – TED Talk – Jane McGonigal: “Gaming can make a better world” | Sanctuary Games

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