Here are the notes from today’s lectures: (Get better soon, Bob! You’re much better at this than I am! LOL)
Announcement: One of the authors of the article we are to read for Thursday’s class is Phoebe Sengers, and she is:
1. coming to our class on Thursday , SO PLEASE DO YOUR READING FOR THURSDAY and come with questions to ask her for the discussion (she is not lecturing); and
2. giving an Informatics Colloquium on Friday at 3pm. Be sure to get there at least 15 minutes early to get a seat (even earlier if you want to sit next to your friends).
Bolter and Grusen review:
Remediation is “ That which appropriates the techniques, forms, and social significance of other media and  attempts to rival or refashion them in the name of the real”.
Let’s look at the example of LP evolving into CD involving into MP3—doesn’t it go against this definition? No. It is OBJECTIVELY true that the LP will have better fidelity than the MP3. But, Bolter & Grusen are talking about subjectivity. The unit of analysis is the felt experience of interacting with the medium, whether that medium is a good reproduction or a lousy reproduction.
Another example: Bioshock is a video game with audio that sounds like it is am quality…made to sound that way on purpose, to make it sound old. In doing so, the experience is actually better than if the audio was pristine. In that sense, the realism is not about the medium’s capacity to faithfully represent some source, but about the medium’s capacity to produce some kind of experience. In other words, the real that Bolter and Grusen mean is not the real of objective reality, but the actual subjective experience to that reality.
Two approaches to the definition of reality, each with its own value and output:
- Reality is a social construction. It isn’t an objective thing that’s sitting out there that we all have perfect and impartial access to; it is something that we all agree is out there. (People looking at media tend to take this approach.)
- Reality is what is out there (and we have partial imperfect access to it.) This does not mean there is no objective basis (that we’re all just making up shit). (Scientists tend to take this approach.)
To bring this back to the Madden NFL example, when it makes the claim to “take you into the locker room and onto the gridiron like never before”, it’s taking the first approach above.
Basically, what Bolter and Grusen are saying is that when there is a claim with a medium that it says it’s better at reality than other media that came before it, but we shouldn’t take that seriously; instead, we should look at it critically. They are trying to develop a language to look at the ways that values persist and the way they are transformed over time
Barnard reading about Hermeneutics
Remember Godamer’s discussion about lifeworlds/horizons? Recap: Subjectivity is my own subjective response to something; intersubjectivity says that people who are in groups tend to respond to things in similar ways. Lifeworlds/horizons are just vocabulary to get at that idea.
When you do design, you don’t design for one. You design for groups, so your unit of analysis is defined by the group. You have your lifeworld as a designer, and the people for whom you’re designing have their own lifeworlds. If your lifeworld is out of synch with theirs’, there will be problems with the design. So, you do user research to understand the groups’ lifeworld. That means that the group’s lifeworld (or reality) is a social construction (the first approach above). There are two possible roles of these lifeworlds and horizons:
- they are prejudices/distortions; it’s your job to suppress your own horizons and try to understand your horizons as if they were your own;
- you only understand anything because of your horizons
As a designer, you will be using both roles.
All hermeneutics is about is synchronizing your lifeworld with the lifeworld of the group for whom you are designing.
HINT: Think about what lifeworld the vacuums you’re critiquing for your paper that’s due a week from Thursday!