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Week Five (week beginning March 26): How we know what is real

When we are sitting in the library and looking through the window, how do we know the trees outside are real rather than artificial? The answers vary. For most of the time, it could be the colour, the texture, the growing pattern, the structure and their surroundings. The criteria are based on our knowledge, and depend on our vision or a sense of feeling that helps us to decide whether the trees outside the window are real or not. However, is seeing really believing? My answer is no. Because the physical limitation of humans’ vision fails to fully see what are actually there and tell what is reality. Sometimes illusion creates a sense of reality in which the illusionary scenes go beyond humans’ vision ability. As a result, illusion is considered as reality. Interestingly, people tend to blur the boundary between virtual reality and reality in the networked society nowadays. It seems that reality is no more restricted in the meaning of sense, rather, it has been updated to the affordances of objects. That is to say the functionalities of an agent regarding what can be achieved tend to be considered as the criteria of reality in today’s technology-intensified world. The reading’s example of monkeys only using brain and virtual body to “move an avatar hand and identify the texture of virtual objects”, try to achieve the fully interaction between the world of virtual reality and reality (ScienceDaily, 2011). To the monkeys, the reality is achieved and ‘sensed’ when the monkeys’ consciousnesses simultaneously move with the avatars’ hand.
How about our meaning of reality? Is it similar to the reaction of monkeys’ consciousnesses and avatars’ hand? My answer is similar and humans can do better. Here is an example of virtual reality training for coal miners.

The mining simulation dramatically reduces the potentiality of life risks during mining process, and increases the efficiency of mining. Moreover, if the presupposition of Nicolelis et al. (2011) (the ones did the ‘monkeys-VR’ experiment) became true – i.e. “Someday in the near future, quadriplegic patients will take advantage of this technology not only to move their arms and hands and to walk again, but also to sense the texture of objects placed in their hands, or experience the nuances of the terrain on which they stroll with the help of a wearable robotic exoskeleton,” then what I assume is that some day in the near future, miners will not participate in the underground risky mining process; instead, mining robots will complete underground mining tasks via merely humans’ brain commanding the avatars on the screen.
In this sense, the combination of Neuroengineering and media technology enable us to participate differently in the virtuality of the world, meanwhile, achieving the result that means reality to us is how we perceive reality in the technology-intensified world.
Anon. (2011) ‘Monkeys ‘Move and Feel’ Virtual Objects Using Only Their Brains’, ScienceDaily, October 5, <;.

O’Doherty, JE, Lebedev, MA, Ifft, PJ, Zhuang,KZ, Shokur, S, Bleuler, H, Nicolelis, MAL 2011, ‘Active tactile exploration using a brain–machine–brain interface’, Nature, 479, pp. 228–231.

‘Roof bolter’,, <;.


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Week Four (week beginning March 19): “Global Mnemotechnics”—Globalising Memory, Thinking and Action ; Key Word: Embodied

Think about the historical advancement of mobile phones to the domination of Iphone generations nowadays. Think about the advent of television to the micro-device enabled ‘walking TV’. Think about the numerous chips inserted into a computer to the chip transponder implanted into humankind to be a cyborg… We are constantly in relation with mnemotechnological apparatuses (Stiegler) of all kinds. Human beings themselves update their knowledge and skills of using technologies from zero to interactively immersing into the elements embodied in them. As a result, these technologies become integral parts of human body, which exteriorize the embodied thinking of humans. The tech-devices extend the visible by extending where we are as well as the reenactment of the basics of life and presentation of the mind as socially situated beings (Noë et al., 2008). However, humans’ increasingly dependence on technologies makes them more restricted within the capacity of the tech-devices as opposed to the further growth of memory and knowledge by individuals’ brains. Interestingly, this does not mean the fall-behind of human-beings. Instead, human-beings are now exploring alternative ways to try to upgrade human species by implanting the high-tech embodiment into human bodies.

Here is an example of the world’s first cyborg, Kevin Warwick, a researcher and professor of cybernetics at the University of Reading in England. He implanted a silicon chip transponder into his left arm and connected it to his nervous system in 1998 (Warwick).

What Warwick emphasizes and is trying to achieve is to make the external information physically inserted into human body with the connection to tech-devices to upgrade human species. Warwick implanted a silicon chip into his nervous system with 100 electros, which can plug into the computer and then send neuron signals from his brain to computer to control things. Excitingly, Warwick’s wife also implanted a chip into her neuron system, which link their nervous system together. As a result, their communication is telegraphically − nervous-system to nervous-system. Warwick claimed that “brain-to-brain communication will be the next step”.

One of the interesting point Warwick made is that we may not need schools or universities if knowledge could be downloaded into our brains. If brain-to-brain communication was achieved, individuals could improve or upgrade their own capabilities and intelligence that they were not gifted with by connecting with other better-developed brains. As a result, globalising memory, thinking and action were connected like a ‘global brain village’. Everyone within the globe could communicate super-efficiently through implanted chips, and that would be the legendary human revolution.

Noë, Alva and Solano, Marlon Barrios 2008, ‘dance as a way of knowing: interview with Alva Noë’, <;.
Stiegler, Bernard (n.d.) ‘Anamnesis and Hypomnesis: Plato as the first thinker of the proletarianisation’,  <;.
Warwick, K (n.d.) ‘CYBORG LIFE – Talking to Kevin Warwick’, <;.

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Posted by on March 18, 2012 in Arts3091


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Publishing does not change “his mind” but “outfit”

Publishing is challenging the perceptions of the public. Nowadays the presentations of publishing has been profoundly transformed, which give the public a speechless surprise of the upcoming potentials of publishing in modern times, such as the appearance of skin printers etcetera. However, heated debates are arising from the mutual transformative systems of communication nowadays, which tend to threaten the existence of publishing. in this essay, publishing in itself, which is regarded as the nature of publishing, defines as “make public or generally known …”(OED Online 2003) so as to apply publishing in a modern sense. I argue that publishing, in itself, is evolving all the time with the advancement of the society rather than disruption in a narrow sense. Three arguments are involved: firstly, false impression of disruptive publishing caused by the rapid innovation of publishing technologies; secondly, public reactions triggered social forums enable the continuation of publishing; lastly, humankinds themselves provide continual sources for the mode of self-publishing.

Firstly, what makes the false impression of disruptive publishing is not publishing in itself but impending disruption of technology for publishing. More precisely, it is the selection of the method for content distribution that really matters, a print publishing or a digital publishing or other modes of publishing. The advancement of the publishing technologies enables a rapid updating of diverse ways of content transference and transformation. However, it does not alter the nature of publishing regarding the orientated information dissemination and ideological system. For example, the advent of tablet publishing, such as iPad, Kindle etcetera, extends and articulates the purposes of communication through the tablet-enabled interactivity and vibration of content representation. As well, the aggregations of the applications on iPad, iPhone as such enable the diversity of information consumption via the innovation of tablet technology. Karp (2007) contends that the driving force of the shift from print publishing to digital publishing is that the availability of open-access content facilitates the great potential of online publishing consumption. It was found that “the value of the distribution and the value of the content itself was always deeply intertwined — now it’s separable,” which has shown by the public through the willingness to make a payment for certain digital content, but not for the expenditure on the distribution (Karp, 2007). Therefore, it can be seen that the nature of the publishing content in itself haven’t changed. What alters instead is the value of distribution, which multimedia-enabled publishing platforms provide a wider range of choices for the public’s content consumption.

By contrast, Cuban (2010) argues that aggregation is the crucial component of publishing disruption in a business view.

[T]here are those that believe that any business that is doing business like they always have will inevitably be disrupted by the internet. Change or die. Right? Wrong. If my memory serves me right, the common thread among those industries that were disrupted is that they all sold their products ala carte (Cuban, 2010).

The majority of the successful business model online is the aggregation of the content, which inevitably makes the disruption of publishing industry. Cuban (2010) emphasizes the examples of Apple products and iTunes store: the aggregation of all possible content forces the bundle purchase.

However, in Cuban’s (2010) view, it perceives the definition of publishing in a narrow sense by ignorance the mode of online publishing. He tends to confine the meaning of publishing as print publishing. Moreover, Clarke (2010), who opposes the notion of a disruption process in scientific publishing, realizes that

[N]ew technologies are opening the door for entirely new products and services built on top of – and adjacent to – the existing scientific publishing system (Clarke 2010).

Therefore, the updating innovation of publishing technologies improve the accordance of publishing content to be able to fulfill the ultimate purposes of publishing in the societies to meet up-to-date needs. The upgradability of age appropriate technologies invigorates the continuation of valued publishing rather than disruption.

Secondly, Interactivity between the public and published content continues the nature of publishing in which the social repercussions on the published information slow down the potential disruption of publishing. To illustrate, there has been strong critics about celebrity wearing costumes with national flag pattern in China since the publishing of the photos of the famous actress WeiZhao wore the costume in Japanese navy pattern as an expression of fashion in 2001 (MHD 2010). [See Image B] The majority of the Chinese public criticized WeiZhao as a militarist pursuer, which forced WeiZhao to make an apology and a clarification of the purposes for wearing the costume in public. However, the controversial issue continued although the Chinese celebrities changed to wear costume in Chinese flag pattern. It was criticized as well because people said that the celebrities paid no respect to the national flag, no matter it was a Chinese flag or Japanese flag (MHD 2010). Later on people who were engaged in the issue made a comparison among the celebrities in different countries, who once wore costumes in national flag patterns. It has been found that the controversial but popular American singers such as Lady Gaga, Beyonce etcetera seem to wear the flags frequently but perceive more often by the public as distinctive presentation (Squidoo 2011). [See Image A] So, this example is to show the impact of the publishing content on the public reaction in which the information revealed in the publishing prompts the ongoing engagement from the public. The changing social repercussions and public value on even the same published content through the interactivity with publishing prolong the ‘lifetime’ of the publishing.


Image Source A: Image Source:

 Caption A: This is the camera shot from MTV of Lady Gaga (left)’s song Telephone. Beyonce
is on the right. New costume with American Flag pattern triggers a great number of followers.


Image Source B:

Caption B: Wei Zhao, one of the most famous actresses in China, provoked the
Chinese public after the publishing of her photos of wearing costumes with
Japanese military pattern.

Nonetheless, the occurrence of the social repercussion associated with published content may depend on the classification of published content. More specifically, the preference of consumption of certain publishing can cause the disruption of other less consumed publishing content. Slovic et al. (1979) found that it was more likely for the individuals to believe the reality of the terror attacks with high frequency of exposure to dramatically arousing news publishing. The primary reason was that heuristic imagination and reminiscence could be easily triggered by terrorism content. The negative case is that people find way of avoidance for out-of-exposure to certain publishing content that they are emotionally sensitive with, such as the feeling of fear due to the information consumption of terrorism. After the research on the American public’s responses to the terrorism news content, Leventhal (1970) suggested that

Most news reports at this time contained threat cues that could have intensified a person’s level of fear. An individual may seek to control his or her level of fear by avoiding such threat cues (Leventhal 1970, p.176).

Whilst the avoidance of certain content consumption, such as the terrorism, might cause the disruption of less preferred publishing due to negative public responses, the group of highly emotive people cannot represent the relationships between the public as a whole and the publishing content. Salwen et al.(2005) found positive public response to the terrorism:

individuals experiencing high level of fear might selectively expose themselves to news reports about the fight against terrorism in an effort to gain reassuring information or obtain information that may be useful in reducing threat (Salwen et al. 2005, p.168)

Moreover, according to Newhagen and Lewenstein (1992)’s study on the effect of  Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989, positive responses from the people who extensively exposed themselves to the news publishing to be able to stay informed timely.

Therefore, the possibility of publishing disruption cannot be merely determined by the minor groups with highly emotional sensitivity. Instead, the public forums created by the content of publishing facilitate the frequent interaction between the public and publishing.

Lastly, the existence of human-beings is the continuation of a mode of publishing, which cannot be disrupted until the time of humankind extinction. The recognition of aesthetics during the process of humankind revolution is one of the most crucial and critical period in the development of human perception, from naked to wearing something, which by then has become one of the most distinctive features between human-beings and animals (Voland & Grammer 2003). In modern days, people consciously and subconsciously express unique self through self-publishing in which refers to make individuals’ clothing published through wearing them in public to display physical appearance in this context. However, outfit selections in modern times profoundly differ from the simple thought for prettiness in ancient times. Rather, it is a kind of representation for self-identity, social influence, values etcetera (Chaiken 1986). Furthermore, in the research on presentation of self in everyday life, Goffman (1959) indicated that individuals’ concern about self appearance comprised various motivations “for trying to control the impression they receive of the situation” to be able to achieve a successful social interaction. Additionally, many researchers asserted that the tendency for individuals preferring consumer goods in certain categories to others indicated that what they choose was compatible with “their sense of social identity” (Belk 1987, Csikszentmihalyi & Rochberg-Halton 1981, Solomon 1983) Moreover, self-publishing through clothing is an imperative social symbol because individuals are using clothing in daily activities. Besides, outfits contain a “frequent public display” and “easily manipulatable symbol” (Feinberg et al. 2011, p.18), which enable an up-to-date self-publishing to be appearance appropriate within the realm of current acceptance. So self-publishing through clothing expression and physical appearance could be a reliable source for the continuation of a mode of publishing in the non-stop updating society. [See Images C,D,E]

Identity and purpose through clothing (C,D,E):

Image C     

Image Source C:

Caption C: A combination image shows delegates from ethnic minority groups wearing
traditional clothing. The different patterns and decorations on their clothing reflects their
minority features and represent which minority group they come from.

Image D

Image Source D:

Caption D: Through what they are wearing, you can tell they are hoopmen. They have a main purpose: playing basketball.


Image Source E:

Caption E: “body-painted models parade through Sydney’s Pitt Street Mall at the launch of Westfield’s Style Tour featuring How To Look Good Naked.” This is a kind of “clothing” publishing via the painting on the human body. It is not only a publishing of art and fashion via human body, but also it proves the ongoing refreshing accordance of nowadays’ publishing.

However, according to another research conducted by Feinberg et al. (2011) recently, the result turns out that whereas it is noticeable that outfits may carry meaning, the simplicity revealed in the previous conclusion on the correspondence among clothing, self-identity and social influence has been implied. So, the mode of publishing may be disrupted if the interactions between self and the instantaneous public information tend to be isolated. That is to say that disruption of publishing self occurs if individuals do not concern about the current acceptance for clothing, such as alternative clothing groups.

Thus, self-publishing through clothing is on a daily basis. In this case, no matter the outfits are in the social
trend or a tendency for disruption of self-publishing being as an alternative group, individuals are rarely naked in a public view without any self clothes publishing. As long as something is worn, the self-publishing is on the way.

To sum up, albeit the communication through publishing is evolving all the time, what has been transformed or disrupted is the ostensible phenomenon. Throughout the research on publishing, three arguments have been presented to respond and critique whether publishing in itself is inevitably going to be disruptive. The result shows that publishing in itself, the nature of publishing, is not inevitably a fate of disruption because: firstly, the disruption of technologies for publishing due to the rapid advancement and replacement of out-of-date
technologies having formed a false concept of disruptive publishing. Instead, the updating innovations of the publishing technologies ameliorate the availability and accordance of diverse publishing content, which effectively articulates the nature of publishing for information dissemination in the public view.
Secondly, public reactions or responses triggered interactive forums between the public and publishing content prolong the lifetime of publishing in itself. Publishing is for the public. As long as an individual is responding, the publishing will not be disruptive. Lastly, it argues that humankinds themselves are incessant sources, which guarantee the continuation of publishing as long as the existence of human race. This argument is justified by the wider definition of publishing in which publishing self through wearing different styles of clothes for a public view carry complex meanings in a modern society. Outfits wearing are not only for self-satisfaction but indeed for controlling the impression of others. Therefore, throughout the three arguments it can be seen that publishing in itself is not inevitably going to be disruptive due to technology innovation, social repercussion and humankinds as a fruitful source for publishing continuation.


Belk, R 1987, ‘Possessions and the extended self’,Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association, New York.

Chaiken, S 1986, ‘Physical Appearance and Social Influence’, In C.P.Herman, M.P. Zanna & E.T. Higgins (eds), Physical Appearance, Stigma, and Social Behavior: The Ontario Symposium,vol. 3, pp. 143-177.

Clarke, M., 2010. Why Hasn’t Scientifi c Publishing Been Disrupted Already?. The Scholarly Kitchen, viewed 5 June,2011,

Csikszentmihalyi, M & Rochberg-Halton, E 1981, The meaning of things: Domestic symbols and the self, Cambridge University Press, New York.

Cuban, M 2010, ‘The Rule of Thumb on Disrupting Digital Businesses aka Why The Internet Is Not Disrupting TV’, Blog Maverick: The Mark Cuban Weblog, viewed 5 June, 2011, <>.

Feinberg, LM, Richard A & Burroughs, WJ 1992, ‘Clothing and Social Identity’, Clothing and Textiles Research Journal, vol. 11, no.18, pp. 18-23.

Goffman, E 1959, Presentation of Self in Everyday Life,Doubleday Anchor Books Doubleday & Company, Inc.Carden City, New York.

Karp, S 2007, ‘The Future of Print Publishing and Paid Content’, publishing 2.0: The (r) Evolution of Media, viewed 5 June,2011, <  t/>.

Leventhal, H 1970, ‘Finding the theory in the study of fear communication’, in L.Berkowitz (ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology, vol.5, pp. 119-186.

MHD 2010, ‘Zhao Wei’s early life, rumours and controversy, commercial work, personal life, charity work’,
Blogspot, viewed 4 June, 2011, <>.

Newhagen, JE & Lewenstein, M 1992, Cultivation and exposure to television following the 1989 Loma Prieta
earthquake. Mass Comm Review, vol. 19, no.1-2, pp.49-56.

OED Online 2003, Oxford University Press, viewed 4 June, 2011, <>.

Salwen, MB; Garrison, B & Driscoll,PD 2005, Online News and the Public,Lawrence Erlbaurn Associates, New Jersey.

Slovic, P, Fischoff, B & Lichtenstein, S 1979, ‘Rating the Risks’, Environment, vol.  21, no. 3, pp. 14-20.

Solomon, M 1983, ‘The role of products as social stimuli: A symbolic interactionism perspective’, Journal
of Consumer Research
, vol. 10, pp. 319-329.

Squidoo 2011, ‘Lady Gaga Clothes’, viewed 4 June, 2011, <>.

Voland, E & Grammer, K 2003, Evolutionary aesthetics, Springer, Germany.


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