Archive | April, 2013

Personal Data Tracking

25 Apr

Central to the readings and the lecture this week was assemblages of data and media (the word for the week was data). Both Quilty-Harper and Wolf make continual reference to the personal being the final frontier in terms of the seeking and interpretation of data. This includes everyday activities such as diet, exercise, sleep, mood, location, alertness and productivity. I found this highly interesting when engaging with this week’s readings. It brought to mind my utilization of the smartphone application and personal data-processing platform ‘Map My Run’ and its significance in altering my approach to fitness improvement.

The Map My Run website highlights that the app is “a fitness tracking application that enables you to use the built-in GPS of your mobile device to track all of your fitness activities. Record your workout details, including duration, distance, pace, speed, elevation, calories burned, and route traveled on an interactive map. You can even effortlessly save and upload your workout data to MapMyRun where you can view your route workout data, and comprehensive workout history”. (here is a link to the website: http://mapmyrun.com ). As well as this, the app allows you to share your personal data with other users so that they are able to measure their personal fitness data against yours. Wolf highlights that in terms of the development of personal data tracking “first, electronic sensors got smaller and better. Second, people started carrying powerful computing devices, typically disguised as mobile phones. Third, social media made it seem normal to share everything” and all these factors can are evident within the development of the ‘Map My Run’ application.

Through the utilization of this application I have been able to progressively improve my personal fitness levels in ways that have only been possible because of my access to specific data, which only a few years ago would have been either extremely difficult or highly costly to retrieve. Wolf highlights that personal data trackers take up tracking with a ‘specific goal in mind’ and he states that “they continue because they believe their numbers hold information that they can’t afford to ignore” and this is significant in considering my personal data tracking. Essentially, with access to this data I no longer am just ‘going for a run’. Instead I am exercising efficiently, making sure that I am reaching my full potential in terms of my age, height, weight etc.

It’s fair to note that some people might consider the access to such personal-data as hazardous. Access to this type of personal-data may lead to significant amounts of unnecessary concern or obsessiveness amongst individuals. An example of this can be seen in the utilization of recently developed newborn breathing monitors. These devices allow parents to record the breathing patterns of newborn babies with the intention of ensuring that they are healthy. However doctors have encouraged parents to stay away from these devices due to the fact that lapses in the breathing of new-born babies is quite normal and would go unnoticed if this personal-data collection was not occurring. However in terms of achieving personal goals of any kind I feel that personal data collection and interpretation is extremely effective.

 

References

Quilty-Harper, Conrad (2010) ’10 ways data is changing how we live’, The Telegraph, August 25, < http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/7963311/10-ways-data-is-changing-how-we-live.html >

Wolf, Gary (2010) ‘The Data-Driven Life’, The New York Times, <http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/02/magazine/02self-measurement-t.html>

Reality Check

15 Apr

The lecture this week was about ‘Reality—actual, potential and virtual’. After having some difficulty with getting my head around the topic I found that my understanding of the actual, potential and the virtual was significantly improved after we had small debates in the weeks tutorial. I know that the word for this week was ‘augmented’ but in this blog I will discuss the subject that my group had to debate, which was whether ‘the binary of the real and the virtual was unhelpful in understanding our mediated experiences’. My team argued that the binary was helpful and I will outline the arguments that we made in this blog post. We agreed with Andrew’s ideas regarding the existence of two sides to reality, he stated that both were equally as real. These two sides were the virtual and the actual.

However we believed that regardless of this there needed to be an acceptance of the actual before there could be an understanding of or an immersion in the virtual. We argued that the virtual alone was not sufficient in terms of physical existence. In terms of general nutrition, the virtual was insignificant. Humans need food and water for survival and total immersion in the virtual would not allow this. We drew on several examples and one was the particular instance where an avid Starcraft player believed he could physically fly off a building in Korea following hours of intense gaming. This not only brings into play several arguments regarding media effects theory, but was also a one off incident and several other factors may have contributed to the occurrence, however in terms of our understanding of the actual and the virtual we could state that the gamers understanding of these interrelated paradigms had been blurred. This was how we separated the real and the virtual.

We also argued that the binary of the real and virtual could in fact enhance our experience of the virtual. This was because the limitations that we experience in the actual are removed in the virtual. In the case of Starcraft this obviously includes gravity. In video game series such as gran theft auto it can includes things like societal laws and values. Because we acknowledge that the experience is virtual we can enjoy the deconstruction of the limitations of the actual, this is because there are often limited consequences.

When we bring things like military drones into the argument things obviously get quite perplexing. Controlling a drone from an office essentially imitates a virtual experience, however it is in fact real. Unlike Starcraft of Gran Theft Auto, there are actual, physical consequences and this is somewhat unsettling.

References

Murphie A (2013) ‘Is The Virtual Real?’ in Advanced Media Issues Course Outline, University of New South Wales, http://www.andrewmurphie.org/3091/course-outline-and-readings/#virtuality

Photo: Strickland J, ‘How virtual reality works’ on How Stuff Works.com; http://electronics.howstuffworks.com/gadgets/other-gadgets/virtual-reality7.htm

Mnemotechnics

4 Apr

The topic for this week’s blog is mnemotechnics and quite suitably the word that needs to be included is ‘experience’. I was fascinated with the amount of thinking that surrounds the subject of memory. Although at first I was confused in terms of perception and the ‘present being the past’ or the ‘present is anticipating the future’, I feel I have been able to wrap my head around it thanks to the allocated readings.

I’m not certain if this is absolutely correct but in terms of this type of thinking; what I’m doing at any given moment in time is in fact making sense of what had just happened. What I think is the present is actually what Andrew referred to as ‘the very recent past’. Although this type of thinking about the present leaves me feeling tangled and confused I agree with it somewhat. To further complicate things, while I’m living this whole ‘past/present’ type of experience, I’m simultaneously anticipating what’s about to happen. So while I’m writing this sentence, I’m making sense of what I’ve written (not even seconds prior) while also, almost simultaneously, proceeding towards its completion. My present is actually spent (very rapidly) reflecting and anticipating. Does my present really exist? Hmmm.

I also found the notion of what Steigler called ‘tertiary memory’ extremely interesting. What was fascinating was the idea that technical supports can trigger ‘natural memories’, that the nervous system and the physical environment, the world, work together and prompt neurological processes. I was reminded of an odd experience I had with a particular type of cologne I once owned. I had taken the cologne on an overseas trip to Germany when I was in high school and wore it daily while over there. I had returned home and forgotten about the bottle that was lying at the bottom of my suitcase. Several years later when preparing for another overseas trip, I found the cologne bottle and thought little of it. This was only until I used it later that day and had experienced an unusual sensation of being back in Germany. This was quite an amazing experience, and it was all due to the work of the subconscious. I suppose it’s similar to someone feeling ill after tasting or even smelling an alcoholic beverage that has made them sick in the past (unfortunately I will never enjoy Jagermeister again).

References

Murphie A (2013) ‘Some Notes on Memory, Media, Time and Perception’ in Advanced Media Issues Course Outline, University of New South Wales; http://www.andrewmurphie.org/3091/course-outline-and-readings/#memory