Monday, 3 November 2008

Quick review of The Machine is Us/ing Us

This is a rightly famous video about Web 2.0 and the bigger picture of what's new about digital culture.

The synthesized music (old-skool audio shorthand for "the Future") and swift editing of video - including that created by screen capture software like Camtasia or Captivate to grab sequences of key strokes and mouse movements - all evoke a rapidly moving landscape we've yet to fully get to grips with.

M. Wesch: The Machine is Us/ing Us (Final Version)

The opening sequence of a pencil writing on paper, annotating, a hand frantically rubbing out recalls a pre-digital era where text was (uni)linear. It switches to a sequence of a word processed text and its fluidity - easier editing, erasure and movement of words from one place on the page to another. At the end of this sequence, the idea of hypertext is introduced- texts are no longer bounded; users can now leap from one page to another with a click of the mouse.

From hypertext we leap to Yahoo and Wayback machine; this section defines html - the code that defines the way web pages look. In html form and content inseparable. Wesch claims that digital text is even better as form and content can be separated. Here, he briefly explains xml and the key idea that content can be reused; data can be exported free from formatting constraints. Another leap to images of blogs and of YouTube - exemplars of new forms of digital text offering users easier ways of participating.

Next, Wesch moves on to key Web 2.0 idea: "the wisdom of crowds"(Tim O'Reilly has pointed out that "users add value"). The web is no longer simply about linking to documents but about linking people. We haven't really begun to reflect on what this all means; we need to rethink copyright, authorship, aesthetics, identity, ourselves ...

This video response is an interesting (in places) counter argument:

Finally, I also enjoyed The Machine is Us/ing Us...for dummies.

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