Media Life Book Notes

Mark Deuze - Media Life - book notes (Polity Press, 2011/2).

Some wonder how writing a book works. One thing I know, is that it works differently for each author. My process is evolving, but what has been working well in the course of writing Media Life is to base the project on book notes: a rough outline of what I would like to say in each chapter, serving as a reminder of where I am (and whether I've arrived at a certain argument or story before). Below are the notes I am working with at the moment. Chapters 6 and 8 still need to be written, I am currently rewriting chapter 5, and chapter 7 (an shortened version of which has been accepted for publication in the journal Cultural Science) needs some rigorous copy-editing.

Of course, I'm posting this to myself, really.

Annotated book notes; version date: March 5, 2011

• Chapter 1: Media Life - argue the ongoing concurrence of media and life; context: Hoffman's The Sandman and Poe's The Man That Was Used Up; debate on technology & society mutual influence, man-machine hybridization, cities as living machines, real time cities and urban informatics, cyborgs (Haraway, Lewis Mumford), the Singularity and Butler’s Darwin Among The Machines; versions of media + life frameworks for thinking, introduce the emphasis on ethics and aesthetics (a good & beautiful life) in this book.

Tagline: Where we try to live a good media life.

• Chapter 2: The Media Today - defining media as artefacts/activities/arrangements; social history & media archaeology; introduce concepts like mediamorphosis (Fidler); remediation (Bolter & Grusin); genealogy of media (Eco/Zielinski/Parikka); consider Buckminster Fuller's dymaxion principle; Arthur C. Clarke's "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic"; see also: Ned Kock on Darwinism and information technology; Brian Arthur on the nature of technology and the Zorg scene from 5th Element; Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451; key for a media life today: the media disappear and become invisible (Gitelman's argument about authority and amnesia regarding media; the ideal of an invisible computer as formulated by Weiser) and therefore all-powerful (Žižek, on money, 2008: 35 makes the same argument); Kittler's appeal for an ontology of media.

Tagline: Where media organize all aspects of life and dissappear.

• Chapter 3: What Media Do - starting with examples: MyLifeBits, Memex, Knowledge Navigator, Microsoft Surface to illustrate and contextualize today's media's qualities of recording/ storing/ redacting everything; the end of forgetting and Mayer-Schönberger's value of forgetting; compare to Borges' The Aleph; Offray de la Mettrie's Man A Machine; using Stephen Colbert's "I am known therefore I am" opinion, discuss why we mediate our lives; key is: we have to work hard to keep media in mind, even though we are wired to respond to media mindlessly (consider Reeves & Nass' The Media Equation).

Tagline: Where media record and store everything and we lose ourselves in media.

• Chapter 4: No Life Outside Media - start with surveillance art (Jill Magid, Bag Lady 2.0) to discuss personal information economy and media as profiling machines (Elmer); link with dataveillance (Clark) & surveillance (Andrejevic, Lyon), Bentham's panopticon and reality TV, the history of discipline/ control/suspicion societies (Foucault, Deleuze, Mattelart); synopticism (Mathiesen); and today's omnopticism (Jensen) & sousveilance (Wellman): ultimate question: "who will babysit the babysitters" (Jello Biafra & Lard)?

Tagline: Where we become profiling machines.

• Chapter 5: Society In Media – recap everyone is watching everyone - we are all profiling machines; a key issue: how do we manage this and what is really going on? What do we do? first: can this be wonderful (Dewey), a source of ecstacy (Baudrillard); second: if so, we have to come to terms with media overload & infobesity (Stephenson's Babel/Infocalypse and Borges' Tower of Babel); three: introduce remix as coping strategy; remix culture (Lev Manovich); four: what about those who do not remix? (digital shadow, participation gap & digital divides; Andrew Feenberg, Jodi Dean).

Tagline: Where we live in media forever.

• Chapter 6: Together Alone - reflexive biographization (Veith) & biographical solutions to systemic contradictions (Beck); context: first we saw the systemworld colonize the lifeworld (Habermas), then lifeworld colonized the systemworld (Beck, Bauman), now, media colonize lifeworld (Goran Sonesson); metaphors for media life: Casares' The Invention Of Morel & the Star Trek Holodeck; media life and extreme isolation (Sloterdijk, the hikikomori phenomenon, De Zengotita's solipsism) or social cohesion (McLuhan, Wellman)? anchorage or rootlessness (Zizek)? together alone: Silent Disco as a metaphor for the experience of family life (see Žižek's notion of the big Other in the guise of cyberspace, Pierre Levy's notion of cyberspace & collective intelligence); compare to Leibniz’ monadology; friendships, love, sex and death in media: direct and indirect at the same time; living/dying privately in public (lifecasting & deathcasting); close plus at-a-distance equals instantaneous experience. collapsing identity categories: self and social, public and private, front stage and backstage (see Nancy Baym; Wittel's networked sociality, Zizi Papacharissi's networked self). conclude with Wendy Hui Kyong Chun's work on the experience of real and real-time; see Stanislav Lem's Solaris: in our exploration of the other in media we run the risk of only looking for mirrors.

Tagline: Where we are closely connected to endless versions of ourselves

• Chapter 7: In Media We Fit - what media do as social arrangements: orientation to media is a survival strategy (Luhmann; Hjarvard; Krotz; Schulz; Lundby); teledildonics, cybereroticism and ongoing body/machine interaction/integration (Kafka’s In The Penal Colony); evolutionary question: what adaptive advantage is gained with a media life? consider: social grooming, bonding, cooperation and sociality, thymotic self-assertion (Fukuyama), presentation of the self, natural and sexual selection.

Tagline: Where living in media provides social and reproductive success.

• Chapter 8: Life in Media - start with Borges Library of Babel (phantasmal living); in media life, the real/reality is malleable, under (co-) construction, permanently beta (De Mul) - in other words: a map; see Borges' On Exactitude In Science; memory as a map; claims about living in the map as the world using mobile/GPS/Google Latitude, Foursquare, Facebook Places), Steve Mann's mediated reality (CyborGLOGS), the unreality of our time (Lowen); creative engagements with reality: alternate reality games (Elan Lee, Christy Dena); argument: there are four realities at work simultaneously: The Matrix (esp. Baudrillard's take on it); The Panopticon (as well as its inverse and reverse, synopticon/omnopticon); Google/Wikiality (compare consensus with Luhmann's reality of the media; and the Truman Show Delusion (TSD); subtlemobs ("try to remain invisible"); in the end, the media put your life at a distance (Shaun Moores), and the opportunities for self-monitoring are endless (Sherry Turkle); see studies on social media use: people generally don't check others (Twitter; Pew 2010); consider Gadamer's "Who Am I And Who Are You?", Lewis Carroll (Alice in Wonderland), Merleau-Ponty's ideas of living-at-a-distance and Luigi Pirandello's One, No One & One Hundred Thousand; speculative turn in philosophy and the return of the real; Jason Lanier on machines giving people more options to act morally, Van Ess' digital media ethics, and ultimately the unique quality of seeing yourself live in conjunction with a meaning of (media) life (Irving Singer, Rorty's social hope); conclude with life as art (Raoul Vaneigem, Bauman's Art Of Life).

Tagline: Where delusion is the way to keep it real, and you can see yourself live.