Saturday, March 26, 2005

what's been up

Well it's been just over a week since my last post and my brain has recovered from its moment of excess stimuli. Unfortunately it was my back that decided to give me grief this week. Too much hunching at the desk with many an empty thought. Actually despite the back problems and being stranded in the rain with a flat car battery one day this week, I have achieved quite a bit on the PHD front. I seem to be slowly catching up on the summaries of readings done to date. This exercise involved me re-reading a journal article I had already read but made no notes about and I discovered on my second reading all sorts of interesting insights. My sister has suggested that I could spend the next three years re-reading the same article. Very funny sis but you know she does have a point.

I also drafted my first questionaire for a pilot interview I'm conducting with a friend next week. I emailed it off to my supervisor to have a look at and have re-thought big chunks of it since then. Oh well. It is a work in progress.

I finally got through Nardi and Day's "Information Ecologies". I put it aside for a while while reading other things. What I did find very inspiring about it was the 'systems approach' to the analysis of technology in use. Although I appreciate that the authors were extending this to an understanding of the system as an ecology which perhaps conceptually at least implies more room for local strategies and difference, the focus was on environments in which technology and people interacted and not just a single user operating on a piece of software.

Thursday, March 17, 2005


I am feeling a little overwhelmed with intellectual stimuli. I must remind myself that I have been a very hands on kind of person for the last seven years. My brain muscles are sore...

Had another great brainstorm with my supervisor this morning. That is such a great word. Brainstorm. I thought surely somehow has registered the domain name but it doesn't appear to be being used although I haven't checked if it is available. Note to self. I do not need another domain name. My online etymology dictionary tells me that the word
Brainstorm meaning "brilliant idea, mental excitement" was first used in 1849 and some of the other iterations include: brainsick (1483) meaning "mad, addled", braindead is dated back to 1976 (but doesn't seem to have a known source); brain teaser is from 1923, brainwashing has been imported from China and came into usage in 1950 and is a literal translation of Chinese xi nao.

But yeah braindead after brainstorm. Really love this PHD thing but geez it really is very brainfocused.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Writing workshop

The uni is offering a series of thesis writing workshops and I attended one today. It could be a good way to write and receive feedback but I have concerns about how the group will engage with each others material. I guess there is a danger that the feedback will be kind of pointless or worse, undermining but then again it could also be a stimulating environment that assists the writing process. I'll give it a go despite my qualms. It's an eight week course.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Almost time for a dog walk

I've been reading some more journal articles today and have consolidated some of the output I've generated to date. I have come up with a Reading Key and Area Key for the readings I'm doing to categorise them in terms of progress and topic. I'm hoping this will evolve into a file that documents the literature areas by priority which is one of my MOA's for this semester. I'm itching to start writing without really having a coherent picture of what it is I'm itching to write although plenty of wondrously vague images and ideas...

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Going out to Uni today

Heading out to Uni today. There is a seminar series on that I am interested in attending on cultural diversity. I've been enjoying Postphenomenology but I think the essay "Image Technologies and Traditional Culture" was flawed and superficial. There is a vast amount of media theories that develop, interpret and critique these technologies in terms of machines that reconfigure the ways that a culture constructs space and time. Early semiotic readings combined with the psychoanalytic interpretations facilitate an understanding of how meaning is contstructed through the cinematic apparatus. Ihde does not refer to any of these insights or builds on them. The specific elements of the cinematic or televisual apparatus that Ihde chooses to foreground, that is, the irreal/real dialectic and the "effects" of cinematographic technologies including flattening, constructing space and time through techniques such as time reversals, flashbacks, special effects and discontinuities are mentioned but not contextualised or explicated in terms of how they create cultural meaning. Just as importantly, seeing the rise of fundamentalism as a reaction to the pluriculture that is becoming of a culture of image-mediation just doesn't gel, or at the very least, it doesn't help me to understand the cultural and historical specificity of the role of fundamentalism in the world today.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Islands on my mind

Been thinking about LOST and its significance as an allegory of cultural renewal and reinvention of the simulacrum, specifically, of America as television. What is LOST? Is it TV, as we may be tempted to believe by the title of the unofficial fan site on the web "LOST-TV"? Islands themselves and stories of island-making, by their liminality, can act as a stage for the re-working of meaning. What is lost in LOST is the past, which is slowly being reconstructed as the series progresses. What is lost is being able to communicate effectively through available technologies to the world, although here too we have the potential for technological salvation by the invention of a mysterious communication device by Sayid. What is lost is also how to get along with others, although it looks like this too may be rediscovered, episodically, as the survivors gain awareness of their situation; their hunger, thirst and isolation. What is lost is also material culture, though we have its wreckage and the remains of the plane's cargo which is rapidly diminishing. And here, in these diminished places, with the remains of the old, the series finds the space for its narrative of renewal and rediscovery. A quote from Dennings "Mr Bligh's Bad Language" echoes this idea of the meaning of island-making.

"Islands lie behind the screen of the sea. A screen as large as the Pacific Ocean thoroughly sifts the life that reaches an island. The few species of plants and animals that survive the sea, now without competition, play many variations on their own themes. All living things come to an island with only the capital of their minds, their instincts and their genes. In the case of human beings, they can also bring with them a select cargo of natural and cultural artefacts. Nothing is transported whole, however. The webs of significance are always darned...Island making sublimates a sense of alienation." (Mr Bligh's Bad Language by Greg Denning)

More to come on this, must stretch and rediscover my bodily parts such as toes and legs.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Study weekend

Some friends and I are away on a study weekend. A bit of postphenomenology before breakfast and a dog walk on the beach has set me up well for a relaxing day. We've driven about two hours north and are staying in a beach house by the sea next to a national park. My desires for the day - to read more of Don Ihde's series of essays on postphenomenolgy and to finish a research paper by Kim Dovey on "The Dwelling Experience: Towards a Phenomenology of Architecture". And not to be forgotten, it's Mardi Gras today. We are planning an evening celebration up here in the beach house with the wildlife. It's the first year in a few years that I really feel like celebrating it. Happy Mardi Gras!

Friday, March 04, 2005

Lost in the Burbs

I got lost yesterday trying to find my way to an orientation for research students. It was one of those circular, maze like new suburbs on the fringes of the city. One minute I was driving past a long stretch of grassy hillocks and the next I was in a dense suburb of yellow and red brick kit homes built on a snaking main artery with lots of promising looking offshoots that turned out to be cul-de-sacs. I felt the panic rising when I realised that I had got myself completely disoriented and lost glimpse of the big grassy knoll with the building on the top of it that I'd been using as a landmark. I kept thinking of the new series of "LOST".

This new series has me gripped and has blitzed my long standing obsession with ER on at the same time. The combination of islands, an airplane crash, paranormal activities, psychic disturbances and the promise of self discovery is just too irresistable. I went in search for a new LOST desktop pattern and was disappointed to discover that there is one available for just about every character on the show except for Hurley. My favourite character! What's wrong with having a geek for wallpaper?

Had a second meeting with my supervisor later in the afternoon and have arranged some upcoming meetings and milestones. I've decided to meet my other two supervisors individually to seek their input and get a better sense of how their particular interests and approach can contribute to the process.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Capsule challenger

capsule challenger
Originally uploaded by Juzza.
Surely the combined mental force of an MA, PHD and Grad Dip will overcome the challenge of the rent-a-capsule.

Springy floorboards

What a strange noise. There is a guy crawling around under our house chocking up the piers where the ground has settled a bit. Well it is a 110 year old house built on a clay surface. We had gaps between the floorboards and the piers resulting in springy boards in certain sections of the house. The dog is going nuts trying to defend the house against the subterranean intruder.

Yesterday I blog swopped with a co-student. Possibly a bit premature. I'm still getting a hang of this thing. Not sure what I am doing with it yet. But sort of thrilling that it now features as one of the blogs of other PHD students around the place in his list of blogs. Thanks. Did I qualify that this is a really boring blog that contains the most banale asides of my life and very few insights?

Well as long as you know that...

I've been doing some productive work recently interspersed with periods of getting to know some other students, wrangling tradespeople and being a new Aunt. Current readings include a bunch of interesting journal articles including an organisational management type article on personal decoration of the work space, an ethnographic study of the making of Automatic Speech Recognition technologies and a cultural studies/sociological investigation into the affective dimensions of car driving.

Also have a new old game to explore and have been working on my summaries of readings to date. Talking to another student I am wondering whether I am approaching this a bit too formally. Each summary is taking forever and I think I'm treating it as if it was a review.