July 24, 2009
Alternate Reality Games, Augmented Gameplay, Augmented Psychology, First Person Shooter, Location-Based Social Network, Massively Multiplayer Online Environments, Mediated Reality, Mixed Reality Performance, Open Source, Presencing, Reality Spectrum, Social Gaming, Social Networking Platforms, Synthetic, Twitter, User-Generated Content
e) Information Deformation: akin to process centering, this Social Tesseraction involves a shift in the very definition of information:
Information may be defined as the characteristics of the output of a process, these being informative about the process and the input. This discipline independent definition may be applied to all domains, from physics to epistemology.”
These deformed systems of data are constantly in flux and available for perpetual revision. Examples include:
Users are able to simultaneously modify, update and adapt their input in real time:
This type of liminal practice results in a deformation of current information architectures. Although traditional information construction may be flexible over time, it still demands unitary data snapshots for knowledge formation. Deforming such data in real time acts to fundamentally alter meaning production. Socially structured input is the keystone of such a dynamic, perpetually fluctuating system:
Here the notion of Social Froth takes on a new level of importance: information becomes a constantly shifting construct with variable endpoints. Rewiring information in such a way radically changes its cohesive nature. This in turn effects:
- communication and media
- book publishing and academia [think: the perpetuation of potentially obsolete content systems]
- the scientific method
- disciplines dependent on referential instruction [think: History or Commerce].
In this deformation system, facts can be reality-edited* in real time:
Narrative progression repositions the representational towards the freeform [think: paidia as opposed to ludic]. An instance of this information deformation in action is troll play [or uncontrolled play]. A social example of troll play is found in the wiki Encyclopedia Dramatica which:
…satirizes both encyclopedic topics and current events, especially those related to or relevant to internet culture. The wiki has been the subject of media attention given its focus on trolling and use of shock value, as well as its criticism of other Internet communities. It is also associated with the Internet subculture Anonymous.”
_Encyclopedia Dramatica_ – and the affiliated imageboard/meme propagation site 4chan - showcase the challenge faced by narrative frameworks. Platforms like _Encyclopedia Dramatica_ encourage troll-based comedic intent. Users remix absurd, and sometimes taboo, content. In particular, invasion boards like _4chan_ utilize shock networking*: where social content attempts to subvert social codas through deliberate agitation. In comparison with established narrative conventions, platforms like _Encyclopedia Dramatica_ offer an experimental system which bypasses strict censorship and ethical constraints. These platforms cater for unfiltered interactions that operate via immediacy-of-response. They are highly idiosyncratic in execution and linguistic formation: censorship and moderation may be limited or non-existent. The output is propagative, with contributors encouraged to riff and rip-off, replace, and even delete content. Narrative is deformed beyond a sequential structure whereby the climax or pay-off event becomes the spectacle:
An example of such modification is Copypasta, which consists of repeatedly copying and pasting blocks of text designed to evoke a heightened emotional response:
A time-tested classic. This ending usually comes into play at the climax of a very troubling or exciting situation. Rather than resolve the story, one of the characters will abruptly say something to the effect of “I had Reese’s for breakfast.” At this point, the other character will completely forget about his/her worries and jump into the corresponding commercial dialogue, enamored by the peanut butter and chocolaty goodness that is Reese’s Puffs cereal. “It’s Reese’s… for breakfast!”"
_Copypasta_ derails notions of story or plot progression, resolution or dénouement. It embodies context-counteraction* and meme perpetuation. Dramatic intent shifts to reiterative moments containing affectivity spiking which ignores the rigors of institutionalized framing [think: morality, hierarchy or ownership]:
f) Attribution Modding involves an extension of Stewart Brand’s iconic phrase “Information wants to be free” to “Identity wants to be freeform”. This category describes users focused on mobilization rather than individual recognition. The group Anonymous* projects attribution modding via collusive identity constructions. The collective’s title is based on the method _4chan_ uses to brand all contributors “Anonymous” by default:
As making a post without filling in the “Name” field causes posts to be attributed to “Anonymous”, general understanding on 4chan holds that Anonymous is not a single person but a collective (hive) of users.”
The collective broadcasts non-attribution ideologies where members are viewed as units of a social mechanism with a deemphasis on individual identification. Attribution modding illustrates the rise of collective identity cognizance and the accompanying shift from expert-centric disciplines.
g) Decline of Silo Ghettos: as information deformation impacts knowledge formation, there’s an increasing need to provide social tesseractors with comprehensive dimensional engagement. This type of borderless interaction deforms monostreams into cross-channelled productions. Social tesseracts assist in addressing the somewhat restrictive walled garden approach to software and platform production [think: the frustration levels encountered whilst experiencing the locked door syndrome].
Google Wave is one system that removes such constraints and allows users to input directly into previously distinct arenas. Other instances of interoperable systems that require the reorientation of Information Silos:
- augmented applications that encourage a pairing of geolocative and geophysical needs:
- bridging software that links previously disparate platforms together [think: IRC-to-Second Life Chat Bridge].
Information Deformation, Attribution Modding, and the Decline of Silo Ghettos are paradigm-shifting markers that highlight socially directed trends. One significant user-centric challenge involves ensuring a smooth migration into a Social Tesseracted future. Such transitions should lessen future shock and encourage a type of overlaid meta-comprehension which promotes the seamless recognition of synthetic conditions.
* Shock networking, reality editing, context-counteraction and Anonymous will be discussed in upcoming augmentology entries.
June 1, 2009
In _Social Tesseracting_: Part 1, we learnt that:
1. Dimensionality defines working concepts of reality.
2. Theoretically, dimensionality can also expand to define a spectrum of nascent social actions.
3. These particular social actions encompass communication trends defined by synthetic interactions.
4. Synthetic interactions create social froth that can be produced geophysically or geolocatively. Both connection types depend on relevant electronic gesturing:
5. This mix of synthetic interactions and electronic gesturing provokes a descriptive framework of this aggregated sodality. This framework is termed Social Tesseracting.
6. In order to adequately formulate Social Tesseracting, contemporary theorists need to extend “valid” reality definitions based currently on the endpoint of the geophysical.
a) Social White-Space: Just as with the convention of white space in graphic design, social tesseracts manifest in habituated actions performed routinely over a substantiated period [think: responding to smartphone emails during geophysical-based discourse]:
Social white space exists in synthetically mediated consciousness via overlaying reality clusters. These clusters may exist outside of the geoloaded end of the Reality-Virtuality Continuum [ie the locatable "real person"]. Conjunctive or intermediary areas of connectivity mediate this “primary” reality state [think: Information Shadowing, the Network Effect and Warnock's Dilemma]. Social white-space is currently effecting educative goals and is altering engagement within the workplace.
b) Immediation: the instantaneous modification of remote events via the removal of geo-specific time lag. Immediation highlights the impact potential of synthetic connectors. Examples of Immediation in action:
- The overwhelming social network usage during the 2009 Iranian Election and corresponding protests and the July 2009 riots in China.
- A charity-oriented social network that encourages altruism. Users synthetically don a digital wristband and donate online to the corresponding colour coded organisation.
c) Regenerative Comprehension: indicated by rapid shifts in the nature of content creation and absorption. A primary example is Twitter’s chronologically-reversed tweet reading order acting to modify awareness. Other examples include:
- Institutionalised settings validating abbreviated textspeak.
- Gradual modification of standardised literacy conventions [think: seamless acceptance of typographical errors and upper and lower case montaging].
- Real-time lifestreaming effecting established cognition patterns [think: Active Narrative Gathering in Social Games]. Aggregated lifesharing also influences user-generated functionality shifts [think: communication workarounds].
- Haptic mobile devices requiring screencentric adaptations:
d) Process Centering: Social Tesseractions are marked by fluid, process-oriented engagement rather than rigid procedural structuring. Process centering prompts a re-evaluation of data formation and alters the entrenched importance of institutionalised categorisations. An emergent example of process centering is Google Wave. Google Wave uses an algorithmic variation of “operational transformations” [live concurrent editing] which occur through a process called transformation:
- The server transforms the client’s request, resulting in the client manifesting the same transformed output.
- The notion of concurrency is invariably important as it mimics geophysical conversational states.
- Utilizing the server as a point of relay [when more than one client's output is involved] assists in providing scalability and reliability.
- The playback feature allows the server to present the document as a stream of operations that have occurred thus far in a particular wave/state.
Transformation relies on continual modification via process centering. This accent on process acts to rewire the notion of documents as statically defined “objects” and [by proxy] any information contained within. This has enormous implications in regards to such institutionally-governed categories such as literacy, media, the professional/amateur divide, narrative, and information construction.
_Social Tesseracting_: Part 3 will expand on these indicators through examining: Information Deformation, Attribution Modding, and the Decline of Silo Ghettos.
March 1, 2009
Dimensionality is a concept that attempts to define reality through scientific framing. Dimensionality refers to the theoretical construction and quantification of fundaments. These fundaments, or dimensions, act to define the:
…parameterization of the conceptual or visual complexity of any geometric object. In fact, the concept can even be applied to abstract objects which cannot be directly visualized. For example, the notion of time can be considered as one-dimensional, since it can be thought of as consisting of only “now,” “before” and “after.” Since “before” and “after,” regardless of how far back or how far into the future they are, are extensions, time is like a line, a one-dimensional object.”
Just as the idea of dimensions can be applied to non-concrete elements in order to frame theoretical states:
…the principle can expand to encompass aspects of emergent social actions. These actions are evident in shifting social dimensions/states. These states [collectively termed "Social Tesseractions"] emerge from certain communication patterns displayed through synthetic interactions. If you’re a user of augmented technology in multiple forms [think: MMO/Mobile gaming, iPhone or Android apps and social networking sites] you will inevitably become part of engagement procedures that promote a type of “social froth”. This froth manifests via electronic gesturing:
These gestures are created through:
- Geophysically static connections (such as using Facebook, World of Warcraft or Tweetree via your desktop PC)
- Active mobile/wireless connections (such as the wealth of geolocative software for mobile devices or social games).
These gestures create complex interpersonal streams that provoke additional connections and accompanying interactions. Sending remote tweets is considered an example of a synthetic interaction [via electronic gesturing]. As this incremental data melds with other user-streams and crossmodal platforms, aggregative patterns emerge. These combined patterns may be considered as a parameter space blueprint that produce, and are in turn produced by, synthaptic communication tides. Examples of such variables include information traffic patterns or “hot” social tracts [when certain users are active according to time zone variations].
Social Tesseractions assist in shaping contemporary notions related to Sociorelational information. Just as raw geophysical encounters evoke varying psychological and communicative responses [think: Communication Accommodation Theory], Tesseracting engenders similarly relevant synthetic loadings. In attempting to establish a conceptual structure surrounding Social Tesseractions, contemporary theorists display a pervasive tendency to shrink all synthetic interactions to a geophysical/biological endpoint. In order to establish whether Tesseraction can be considered a tangible phenomena, this assumed standard of endpoint interaction should shift from a reductionist angling towards more appropriate markers. These markers will be discussed in _Social Tesseracting: Part 2_.
May 9, 2008
Alternate Reality Games [ARGs] are forms of entertainment that derive their structure from a mix of fictionalised world framing and real-world narrative components. Players create a required suspension of disbelief when connected to an ARGian world construct. This construct operates “…via interconnected narrative threads/cues beyond exclusive parent forms or individualised game parameters. ARGs make players step outside the restrictions of mono-genre game boundaries and narrative-seek through the use of webtrawling, email, phone/sms contact, real-time interactions and extensive online engagement to glean cues + puzzle pieces. These games work within a collusive reaction principle; that arousal, curiosity and search-behaviour will result if info-schooled gamers are offered teasing data as narrative tip offs.”.
ARGs display commonalities with Viral Marketing and Viral Media campaigns. All three forms have structural similarities that attempt to promote meaning formation. ARGs use a Gestalt system pieced together through pervasive content. Successful ARG navigation requires the employment of Active Narrative Gathering [ANG]. ANG involves genre amalgamation, prosumerism, and attentional layering. The Social Networking software _Twitter_ is a contemporary example of one variation of prosumerism in action. Twitterers micro-blog via text snippets [tweets] of 140 characters in length. Users can respond in the public communication stream/timeline, direct message others, or restrict their tweets from general view.
Twitter users create and absorb in concentrated attentional narratives. These tweetstreams blend observations and user-regurgitated facts. Content occurs with attentional “tasting” as users choose to collaboratively incorporate snippets into their streams. Alternatively, they can express introspective or otherwise nuanced updates without accounting for replies or additional user interactions. These integrative comprehension streams represent Synthaptic units – a synthetic network measurement that gauges attentional consciousness.
Prosumerism, like successful ARG navigation, is not passive but active in intent. Synthetics embody the attentional as an extension of a fiction/non-fiction meltdown within streams of ego-consciousness. Should notions of pop culture be replaced by a corresponding attentional conception of entertainment?
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