Wednesday, September 30, 2009


I definitely had some troubles grasping the concept of what exactly locative media is. I was able to understand that locative media has to do with media expressed not through text about a certain place, but from the changing of and understanding of the place itself. What was hard to grasp is how the actual media is being absorbed by the audience. Is it through the portable device such as laptop or Iphone/Blackberry, or is it from being in the location itself? Or is it how the space and the GPS interact with each other? This didn't make much sense to me. In that sense, I wish the article had been a lot clearer.

What did help clarify was a description to about the project, in which i was able to relate it to the website we viewed in class about Toronto and the different locations. Basically I now get how locative media is just going to different locations and using the GPS or whatever to gain information about the particular location. Still, it seems more like an independent, although interesting and resourceful, tourist attraction.

In other news, I was thinking about how crowds at sporting events are a form of participatory action. We all agree on the emotion we want to convey to the team when we cheer, whether it be "get a hit!" or "stop them from scoring!" or sometimes even "you guys suck!". It's interesting though, because we have the ability to change the energy of the space by simply screaming at the same time, and can energize a team to act a certain way...aka "Home-field advantage".

Laura Napolitano--locative narrative

Having only read the first half of the article, I'm not quite sure what the main point of it was. (This seems to be happening a lot for me with the articles for this class. I don't quite understand what the person is trying to say.) I like how the author is saying that every place has a different story, sometimes several. The house I live in was inhabited by another family before we moved in. It had a different story 20 years ago when they lived here, especially because it was a brand new house when they moved in. Before my house was built, the piece of land was a corn field. It meant something different then, too. My whole block (not a city block, i live in the suburbs of Philly so the "block" is about a half mile long) used to be farmland before the houses were built. My neighbor across the street told me that when he and his wife moved in 30 or 40 years ago, there were only 3 houses on the street, 1 of which was still being built. Things have definitely changed. It's the same location, but a different time, a different story to tell, with different people to tell it. And I'm sitting at home telling this story, but I'm on my laptop and I could easily be at the train station, on the train, or even in Vermont at my grandmother's house writing this.

Our class is all about locative narrative. We're all blogging from different locations, whether it's at home, school, a friend's house, Starbucks, or someplace else. We each have a different perspective on what we read and write because of where we are, not only physically, but also where we are in our lives. We have all experienced different things in our lives because of where and when we've grown up.

Temple University has even changed in the 125 years it's been around. I started out at Ambler campus and was shocked when I started at main because it's such a completely different location. It really is a suburban vs urban experience. It's very much like being on two separate college campuses.

Combine music and film!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Scribe 9-29-09

First and foremost, everyone should participate in the blog more!

Today we discussed our assigned article about the concept of Emergence that compared humans to ants.

We looked at a few images. One was of the brain. The second was of a city that resembled the brain. The third was a diagram of Internet usage. All the layouts of the images were similar. All of the pictures were of things that were made up of corresponding parts responsible for the function and organization of one another.

Most of all, we need to preserve the absolute unpredictability and total improbability of our connected minds. That way we can keep open all the options, as we have in the past.
It would be nice to have better ways of monitoring what we’re up to so that we could recognize change while it is occurring----Maybe computers can be used to help in this, although I rather doubt it. You can make simulation models of cities, but what you learn is that they seem to be beyond the reach of intelligent analysis….This is interesting, since a city is the most concentrated aggregation of humans, all exerting whatever influence they can bring to bear. The city seems to have a life of its own. If we cannot understand how this works, we are not likely to get very far with human society at large.
Still, you’d think there would be some way in. Joined together, the great mass of human minds around the earth seems to behave like a coherent, living system. The trouble is that the flow of information is mostly one-way. We are all obsessed by the need to fee information in, as fast as we can, but we lack sensing mechanisms for getting anything much back. I will confess that I have no more sense of what goes on in the mind of mankind than I have for the mind of an ant. Come to think of it, this might be a good place to start.
—Lewis Thomas, 1973

We watched a clip from the movie Waking Life. We discussed the nature of ants and the nature of humans. The actions and communication ants make is for survival. There is a lack of emotion attached to the participation.

We also discussed how life is systematic; however, at the same time chaotic and unpredictable. We sacrifice our own emotions and live in an orderly fashion for the greater common good. This is an "ant like" structure which has been compared to Communism.

We also discussed the Swarm Theory. There is a collective intelligence based on local signals. Simple entities operate together to form more complex behaviors. Ants and humans share similar social structures of gathering, collecting, sending signals, and receiving signals.

Cognitive Science is the study of ideas of behavior and human interaction. It looks at cause and effect of actions rather than mental or emotional motivation. Then we started to discuss computers and how their thinking relates to ours. The language of computers differs from our own mainly because of emotion. We can not hurt a computers feelings. However, there is still a structure in how to use them. We do need to communicate to computers when making websites in language they will understand. On the other hand, some people believe that humans are like machines. Humans are systematic. The difference is we are also individuals and unique.

There is an importance of local interaction and an idea of the trickling up effect. Hard work and benefits start at the bottom then trickles up to the top.

Locative Media: Uncle Roy All Around You

A long time ago, I was introduced to an interactive, locative media game called Uncle Roy All Around You. The object of the game is between people playing online in a virtual city and participants in real life walking around a real city, using GPS technology and cell phones to communicate, the participants are asked to find "Uncle Roy" in a city. They are given no clues to his location and they are asked to communicate with the online players and the online players communicate with the real life players. This use of technology, interactivity, and interfacing between two people in a virtual and real world setting is extremely interesting and shows how locative media can not only be fun, but engage in a sort of commentary on the way in which humans interact with technology.

At the end of the game, players are asked whether they want to make a commitment to the virtual player or real life player with which they have been paired or not. If they do make this commitment, it is up to the players to see where it goes from there. They could exchange contact info or not.

I thought it was worth checking out if you haven't heard of it.

Michael Hearn - Emergence Response and Swarm Theory

Steven Johnson, in writing about emergent responses in his articles, distinctly uses the examples of antlife and behavior as a comparison piece to human behavior, in some ways suggesting that ants are more successful at this kind of communal collaboration since there are so many ants and ant species and they are involved in so many different kinds of operations. His comparisons are not unfounded, while he admits that human communication is far more advanced than the communication of animals such as ants where they only have from 10 to 20 different things to communicate where humans practically have vastly more things to communicate, but the distance humans have with one another can distill our communications to the point where we do act like a swarm of ants, communicating simple things back and forth for one another's purposes. The example that kept on coming to mind reading this was the idea of our economy, how while each person involved attributing to the economy is their own complicated person with various needs and desires, the basic law of the economy that summarizes many of our communications is "supply and demand". I'm obviously simplfying and leaving out a lot about economics (so excuse me), and especially in this day where independent businesses and collaborative contributions are more common, the lines between supplier and consumer are more blurred than ever, but the basic trading of goods and services for money or other valuable goods can be simplified to just that. In that sense, there's always this kind of swarm behavior where we each contribute to one another's pursuits and in that way makes up the blueprints of cities and societies that Johnson talks about.

Emergence Response

I think comparing the success of the ant and the human was absolutely called for. One can easily make the case that ants are a more successful species than humans. It was particularly interesting learning how they operate, communicate, and participate. I think the root of their success may be based on their local view. As Johnson described, they do everything at a local sense, from communicating with their surrounding peers. There is no larger "bird's eye" view of what may be going on elsewhere in the colony. This is what interests me, because as humans, we have always strived to see the larger picture, we strive to see the world as a whole community, especially today, in terms of globalization. We don't just watch the news to hear about what's going on in our neighborhood. We don't watch it to see what's going on in our city, we monitor news world wide. We want to know everything that's going on everywhere, whereas the ant will keep it's focus on it's neighbors.

Emergence Daniel Speers

This article actually blew my mind. Even though I read each description of the detailed life of ants, cells and cities, I still found it impossible to comprehend how it all works intelligently. This article was brilliant and for the first few pages all i could think of was how does sim city work. Then as i kept reading Sim City came up as a topic and he described in detail how its programmed. I am still trying to figure out and application and the ramifications of what all this means. How can we apply this to new media? Maybe it is exactly how the internet is already functioning and growing. What ever the implications are about Emergence, it is a new and exciting concept.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Emergence Reaction

The comparisons likening ants to human beings, but more structured and organized is an interesting concept. According to the essay, ants thrive on routine and almost have a sixth sense of intuition. The fact that they work so well among themselves with so few methods of communication is also notable.
Studying different species always fascinates me because it produces a sort of uncanny feeling. Like Johnson mentions with younger colonies acting more fickle than older ones, one can't help but find relations with this compared to humans. The ways the ants work together, although different from humans, still works to achieve the same goal. Although we often have centralized methods of leadership, our methods of labor still remain remarkably similar to that of ants.

Jesse Papineau - Emergence

In Steven Johnson's “Emergence,” he made many sensible connections between the communication between groups of ants and how humans interact. Johnson pointed out many simplistic behavior traits found in many ants that have helped them to not only non-verbally communicate, but also to establish a remarkably successful species. There is quite a contrast between the machine-like lifestyle of an ant and the complicated human lifestyle where nothing is ever simple, however I believe that the internet has made the world more like an ant colony as almost anyone or anything can be found in one centralized place. Of course, I never would have made that comparison without first reading “Emergence.”


I actually really enjoyed this reading, and for a couple of different reasons. First of all I like how Johnson had a different view on the success of a species. Instead of defining it merely on our cognitive ability, he boiled it down to how successful they have been in: 1) perpetuating the existence of the species...and 2) how well they perform their function as a species. As far as ants go they have done both of these tasks quite efficiently, advocates Johnson.

I enjoyed how he explained how this effective existence takes place. The idea of keeping the goals of each individual local was particularly interesting because of how different that is from humans, especially in today's day and age where everyone is constanlty concerned with the actions of people who we have never even met. Now, I am not saying humans should begin to operate in this "antian" fashion, but its cool to say that our way of life and functionality on earth is not the only way a species can last.

Laura Napolitano--Emergence

Ok, so I never would have compared ants and humans, but it made sense that we could learn something from them. Yet, I'm not quite sure what that is. Ants are so small minded, literally. Granted, they must be good for something since they make up 30% of the population of the Amazon. Without ants (or spiders) we'd be living in a much different world. Their meticulous work is very much appreciated, as annoying and disgusting they may be.

But at the same time, I don't understand the fascination with ants. They're ants! Such tiny little creatures! And why would someone even dare to say that we could learn something valuable from the ugly things? I must have missed the central point of the article if I have that attitude.

Our bodies cells function like ant colonies? Ok, sure. Didn't want to know that. Next time I want to think about how my body functions, I'll just imagine a colony of ants crawling through my veins. Thanks Mr Johnson, for that lovely mental picture.


I felt a lttle wierd being compared to ants, it almost makes one feel insignificant, but at the same time the article Emergence really did get his point across. It really does bring up tones of correlations between human society and ant colonies.


Emergence has definitely been the most interesting reading I have came across this year. I felt that ants were a good choice to use as a comparison because of the way they do act within their colonies. They are very similar to humans, but they certainly work in a way that may be more effective then the route we are going. But even though they do have ways of communicating their civilization definitely lacks greatly in that department compared to us. So do we benefit from having someone in charge telling us how to do something and be able to communicate better with each other?

"Emergence" Reading

Steven Johnson spends quite a lot of time differentiating the social habits of colonizing insects and humans (e.g. humans having very complex brains relative to ants). He covers the similarities too: the idea of creating an emergent (bottom-up and evolutionary) society that responds on local levels. I think the most interesting concept he mentions is the idea of humans not being able to comprehend the changes and patterns that coalesce over long periods of human years. It's the old adage that a part cannot fully comprehend the whole it is part of. Ants can't grasp the way the colony works, human beings can't understand how the human brain works, and humans as citizens can't conceptualize fully the growth and evolution of the city they are a part of. But perhaps we can use the patterns of ants as a microcosm for our lives. After all, humans are all just social beings but with generally more cultural, creative, and individual identities. Why not learn to work together instead of going to war?

Emergence - Rob Stone

I really liked the excerpt's use of ant colony life as a comparative tool for humanity. It was interesting to look at how our operation as a sort of "ant colony" has enabled connectivity in an information-oriented sense; although, this idea of human society being a global network in the mold of an ant colony also gives rise to the problem of dehumanization. If we are all ants just going about our business, occasionally using our colony's connections to distribute and gather information, we are at risk of diminishing the amount of actual "human" interaction that takes place - something that we can already see happening with the advent of computerized networking and internet communication.

For another interesting articulation of the idea I have presented, here's a clip from the film Waking Life: Ants

Emergence - Charly Joung

"Street Level" from Emergence was definitely an interesting read. The point about how in the past few centuries the percentage of people who lived in urban environments jumped from 3% to 50% made me wonder about something. The ant population is controlled by many factors, but what about humans? Earth's population has been increasing at a fast pace and the populations of cities are becoming more and more dense. What does the future hold for Earth's inhabitants if growth remains constant?


I really enjoyed this reading. I found it fascinating how the ants worked. I guess the way that it related to class was that it was almost like the ants were doing a participatory action and if they didn't all work together it wouldn't work. We can use ants as a good example for how things don't need to be super planned out for them to work.

Emergence, development, and evolution.

My classmates below brought up two interesting points about the way the word is changing, and how we shape ourselves now through communication. The fact that we now are evolving into being virtual communicators over face-to-face ones can affect many aspects of our lives. Interaction starts when we are young children. If we learn to interact through screens, will that affect childhood development? We eat with a fork, spoon, and knife now. However, fingers and were customary during the “cave people” era. Now we view that as wrong, messy, and animal like. If we saw a person eating food with their hands at a high-class restaurant, we would be turned off. However, it seems as though as we enter the “jetsons like” era, students as young as 6 years old will be able to email their teachers when they are absent from class, and ask what did they miss oppose to waiting until they return. Now the question is, is this good or bad? Can evolution of technology affect development of people?

Ryan Bercaw - Emergence

This article was interesting in that it discussed the behavioral specifics of a species that works on the most primitive level of thought. It brought to light the similarities between our animalistic interaction behaviors and the way ants live. Despite having advanced speech, humans take subtle cues from other humans they interact with. Like ants, sometimes the way we act depends simply on how many other humans we notice in our vicinity.

The article brings up another interesting point in that as a population increases, individual errors become less noticeable and important. I think this relates to people becoming a tighter worldwide population with the help of the Internet. We come into contact with so many people than we would have years ago, and it almost makes us desensitized to lots of human error.


I guess the connection I found between the ants topic and what we've been doing in class recently is basically the art of communication. The reading brought up a neat point on how simple the ant communication and lifestyle is and yet look how successful and abundant their species is. It then went on to note how computers have a very simple foundation of how they work, 0's an 1's. Is that a hint that computers have the potential to slowly work their way up the evolutionary ladder at some point as well? Without the the help of human? The reading says it's "better to have a densely interconnected system with simple elements, and let the more sophisticated behavior trickle up." I thought that was an interesting viewpoint. But overall like some others said the topic threw me off at first from what we've been reading recently.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

John Curall-Emergence

I also had trouble figuring out the point of this reading as relating to class. It was interesting, but I was kind left going "ok, and..." The one thing this did make me think of is what effect the "virtual world" that we all increasingly live in will effect the physical world. We live in a world where the majority of our social interactions are online and through text messaging rather than face to face or even voice contact. Will this have a positive or negative effect on the world at large? Is this just part of our evolution? Much like the effect of moving from sidewalks to cars, that was mentioned in the reading, moving from a physical to a virtual world can possibly have a huge impact on the development of the world itself. Many of us would say that this would likely be a negative one. However, there is one important difference in these two transformations. When we moved from sidewalks to cars we reduced our interactions. Whereas with the shift to a virtual world we have increased our interactions on a global scale whether or not we believe those interactions to be less meaningful. No longer is the "neighbor" that we have interactions with limited to physically proximity. Our "neighbor" can be anywhere in the world. Much like we discussed when we talked about the effect the telegraph had on communities so too the emergence of the "virtual world" has a profound effect on our development. Only time will tell if that effect is a positive or negative one. We always loose something when we evolve. The question is do we gain more than we loose?

Group 5: Fluxus members

I know this is a bit late, but here's our members:

Ben Musser
Nick Sulikowski
Jason Sheck
Laura Napolitano