Michael's E-learning & Digital Cultures Blog

My Visual Artefact, aka A Tumblr Workaround

October 13, 2010 · 20 Comments

YouTube Preview Image

Many thanks to Jeremy for pointing out that Tumblr has a comment word limit of 250 words (why?). Prezis don’t embed in Wordpress all that well, so I have gone ahead and just recorded it, uoloaded it to YouTube, and provide it here in case anyone wanted to comment.

You can see the actual Prezi at either:

Categories: Uncategorized



20 responses so far ↓

  •   Noreen Dunnett // Oct 13th 2010 at 5:19 pm

    I loved this Michael. I think we should run our two Prezis as companion pieces – your piece seems to follow on from mine! I also loved that you used Van Gogh as the example – I went to Amsterdam in July and spend most of a day in the Van Gogh Museum just reading about and standing in front of all those amazing paintings. The idea of the social network being necessary for making sense of things struck a chord with me, especially after reading Merchant this morning where he was talking about affinity groups and folksonomies.

  •   Jeremy Knox // Oct 13th 2010 at 7:05 pm

    Much appreciated Michael…

    The juxtaposition (perhaps ‘union’ is a better word) of Kress’s words and Van Gogh, particularly with the first portrait, is really quite compelling. The pointillist technique becomes symbolic of combination, as if he were commenting on the multi-modal himself – we only see Van Gogh because the distinct marks ‘bind’ together. I like this idea of thinking about the multi-modal as somehow molecular, with complex interconnected dependencies.

    I enjoyed the transition of (hu)man’s disillusionment: Nietzsche taking away the certainty of God, and Darwin removing the certainty of our supremacy over animals. (Perhaps Freud would have made a good addition here – the subconscious takes away the certainty that we are in control of our conscious selves). Each time we are demoted. Perhaps digital culture is a new empowerment?

    Interesting the inclusion of industrial revolution (great images), ‘human capital’, and ‘strife’, where people were considered cogs in the wheels of production. Does the digital subject us to new systems, and are our social networks really economic machines for corporate profit (dystopic)? Or does the digital empower, by marking a transition from this kind of history?

    The metaphor of signal to noise is useful for me in understanding interpretation, and seems related to the diverse translations put forward in the film festival, and encoded in these visual artefacts. It seems that data, as particularly prevalent in data visualisations, needs some kind of interpretation to take on form. I like to think your metaphor implies infinite difference. In the ‘noise’ of data, interpretation becomes about multiple, individual meaning, rather than the traditional notions of singular knowledge and truth, as promoted by time-honoured educational institutions. Useful for thinking about the horizontalisation brought about by the network. All together a thought provoking journey, many thanks.

  •   Marie Leadbetter // Oct 13th 2010 at 8:20 pm

    Excellent – that we are only as strong as our Network really strikes a chord with me. I’ve been thinking a lot about connectivism (http://www.connectivism.ca/) since I first read about it and it really does seem to be something that is at the centre of digital culture. ..

  •   Hugh O'Donnell // Oct 13th 2010 at 9:36 pm

    ‘Cognitive Surplus’ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_Surplus) sprung to mind, Michael when I saw the network images juxtaposed with the ‘resources’ that were people of the industrial age. We collaborate and are collaborated with, a blurred oscillation between giving and receiving.

    I didn’t know that you could have video running within Prezi – powerful when your camera shifts from a piece of moving imagery, looks very professional and controlled.

    H

  •   Linda Matthews // Oct 13th 2010 at 10:24 pm

    Thanks for this Michael. It was really good to see how effective a prezi/you tube combination can work to communicate complex ideas. You have helped my considerably to think how I can better develop my own prezi to better effect.

  •   Michael Sean Gallagher // Oct 14th 2010 at 9:33 am

    No trouble at all, Linda. I use Prezi quite a bit and once it supports MP3 drop ins, I might never use anything else again! It is also has an online meeting tool so it is quite good for students to brainstorm ideas a bit. You can just throw everyone’s ideas on the Prezi as they come and then draw the path through the ideas after the fact. Great for students to mindmap/conceptualize ideas a bit. Quite good for prelearning activities that way, as well. Before introducing a topic, have everyone tell them what they know about it, however anectdotal, throw it on the Prezi. Revisit it at the end of the lesson to see what new things they learned and how to sequence it.

  •   Michael Sean Gallagher // Oct 14th 2010 at 9:36 am

    Hugh,

    We are on the same page there. I actually saw Clay Shirky speak like 6 months ago about Cognitive Surplus and it has had me thinking ever since. Great way to phrase that, Hugh: a blurred oscillation between giving and receiving. Yes, all taking place on individual and group levels. A constant symbiosis, a natural kind of regulation.

    Video can be dropped right in from either Vimeo or YouTube. Just copy the link and drop it right on the Prezi as a text box. Instant embed.

  •   Michael Sean Gallagher // Oct 14th 2010 at 9:39 am

    Yes, Marie. The connectivism is quite intriguing to me as well. This navigation through the network, regardless of medium (audio, visual, etc.) is really the literacy we need to understand. How to manage, expand, strengthen your network by participating, receiving, giving. It is so incredibly fluid, always changing. I love the fact that these discussions are addressing intelligence/literacy not as a static entity, but as a measure of competence over time and space. At that moment, and this one, and this one, and so on. That Canadian connectivist crew are on to something!

  •   Michael Sean Gallagher // Oct 14th 2010 at 9:39 am

    Yes, Marie. The connectivism is quite intriguing to me as well. This navigation through the network, regardless of medium (audio, visual, etc.) is really the literacy we need to understand. How to manage, expand, strengthen your network by participating, receiving, giving. It is so incredibly fluid, always changing. I love the fact that these discussions are addressing intelligence/literacy not as a static entity, but as a measure of competence over time and space. At that moment, and this one, and this one, and so on. That Canadian connectivist crew are on to something!

  •   Michael Sean Gallagher // Oct 14th 2010 at 9:51 am

    As always, great points, Jeremy; ones that go well beyond my comprehension of what I was posting.

    The pointillist technique becomes symbolic of combination, as if he were commenting on the multi-modal himself – we only see Van Gogh because the distinct marks ‘bind’ together. I like this idea of thinking about the multi-modal as somehow molecular, with complex interconnected dependencies.

    I like the molecular reference as I do believe that to be true. Nodes, molecules binding in clusters of necessity/purpose, attaching to larger clusters, disassociating freely, recombining, yet maintaining, in some degree, the larger network construct, the painting. However, and here is the kicker, that larger construct only appears as a representation outside the network, from a distance. I suppose that is the point of much analysis/research, however; we only see shape from a distance. An apt metaphor for our networked culture? I would argue yes, to a point; the only difference is that I now have the tools to visualize the network as I am navigating through it, a micro/macro perspective happening in real-time. I think there are some implications for cognition/perception there.

    I enjoyed the transition of (hu)man’s disillusionment: Nietzsche taking away the certainty of God, and Darwin removing the certainty of our supremacy over animals. (Perhaps Freud would have made a good addition here – the subconscious takes away the certainty that we are in control of our conscious selves). Each time we are demoted. Perhaps digital culture is a new empowerment?

    Good point about Freud. That would have been perfect. I think it is no coincidence that historically all those things happened within a 20 year span of one another (kind of like Frazer’s Golden Bough, an analysis of religion as mythology, rooted in pagan practice, which greatly influenced Joyce). I think we are dealing with a continuum here. The subconscious feeds the conscious individual which feeds the subconscious network which feeds the conscious network. Maybe our individual voices are like subconscious impulses manifested on the dreamscape of the network, blips in the Matrix. Post-human equating to networked humanity?

    The metaphor of signal to noise is useful for me in understanding interpretation, and seems related to the diverse translations put forward in the film festival, and encoded in these visual artefacts. It seems that data, as particularly prevalent in data visualisations, needs some kind of interpretation to take on form. I like to think your metaphor implies infinite difference.

    I think the signal to noise followed by the sensemaking activities is the paradigm of digital culture. It is all about interpretation, but let me add a caveat, as I see it, to that. I think there might very well be something approaching the traditional notion of singular truth amidst this noise. My only argument would be to say that it is truth at that moment; it might be irrefutable (probably not), but truth is relative, like everything else, to space and time. Like the network, it will reconstitute itself almost immediately.

  •   Michael Sean Gallagher // Oct 14th 2010 at 9:55 am

    Noreen, I would run everything I do as a companion piece to yours; we seem to be pulling from the same wellspring! The folksonomies thing is quite interesting. In the field I run in here (info science/taxonomies/etc), it was a huge thing and still is. Truly revolutionary when it happened. Now we think, of course one would want to unleash the power of the network onto the organization, but at that time of centralized authority and control, it was hard to conceptualize. I am greatly attracted to affinity groups, why people merge with others into groups, connect and disconnect based on need, loyalty, trust. These are all very human procedures, with obvious real-world antecedents, simply being mediated by technology. Fascinating stuff.

  •   Liz Kerry // Oct 16th 2010 at 5:02 pm

    Hi Michael,
    Wow!
    I loved that you used Van Gogh as your example (starry night is one of my all time favourite pieces of his work).
    The points that you raise around social networking and being central to one, yet a small part of something so big has really made me stop and think.
    Also, thank you for a beautiful example of Prezi. I have tried (and failed) many times and seeing one done so well has inspired me to try again!
    Liz

  •   Michael Sean Gallagher // Oct 16th 2010 at 6:35 pm

    Great to hear, Liz. Prezi is worth the effort a bit as I use it for mindmapping/brainstorming quite a lot. It just lets me expand my thinking a bit. I love Starry Night as well and wanted to include it amidst his other paintings of workers and self-portraits, because despite all the social interactions at work, sometimes you just have to stare at the night sky and dream a bit. Hence the Van Gogh quote about religion. Transcending earthly limitations. Thanks again, Liz!

  •   Alison Johnson // Oct 16th 2010 at 9:34 pm

    Hi Michael I marvel at your prezi, liking the video footage you selected and the starry night song too!

    My highlights are the subtle but almost missed title you selected: Songs without words and the use of Van Gogh, whose words (via his paintings) continue to be heard and inspire others long after he died – as exemplified by the starry night song… ‘I understand now, what you tried to say to me’….’I think I know now, what you tried to say to me

    I also like the fact that he was an impressionist offering ‘impressions’ as representation rather than a ‘perceived universal truth’ and brushstrokes with a hint of texture which add a further nuance to his communications.

    Final point I liked – the notion of code as a voice without words (final video).

    Noise+network=knowledge/sensemaking seems the formular for social constructivism to me?

    Ali

  •   Alison Johnson // Oct 16th 2010 at 9:36 pm

    ps – title like is voices without words. (not songs without words)

    I am having problems submitting my comments tonight so the above was my third dubious attempt!

  •   Michael Sean Gallagher // Oct 16th 2010 at 9:42 pm

    Great points, Alison!

    Great catch on the song lyrics. “I think I know now”-understanding, perception, personalization. How all of this is mediated with time. We still interact with Van Gogh in more profound ways that we would with other artists precisely because, I would argue, he was an impressionist, not a realist. He attempted to represent both form and meaning, intellect and emotion. The texture is a good point, Alison. Texture almost pushes towards offering another dimension, almost like 3D. It is the stark emotional clarity that always come through for me with Van Gogh. I can feel it even if I can’t articulate it. I might understand what he tried to say, but I know for certain how longingly he tried to say it. I liken this creation in his painting to what we are doing, just on a collaborative scale. We are constructing both intellectual and emotional truths (valid as long as we believe them to be).

    Social constructivism is good here, most certainly. Good observation. Tearing knowledge from interaction, crafting it, reshaping it, endlessly tinkering.

  •   Jen Ross // Oct 17th 2010 at 8:16 am

    A wonderful Prezi, Michael, as others are noting. I decided to watch your youtube version rather than going straight to the Prezi, and was interested in the choices about pacing that you made. You moved through the images much more quickly than the text in most places, and I thought that was telling – I would have been intrigued to see how much of the text you could have left out and still made your points effectively.

    I am also interested in how you are thinking about the ‘network’ – for me, social networks imply a degree of choice (of who to associate with, which communities to belong to), and so the noise + networking = sensemaking equation would seem to take on quite a personalised slant. Which brought me to think about Cass Sunstein’s “Republic.com 2.0″, where he talks about personalisation as a threat to democracy in that people may be less exposed to shared experience and to unexpected ideas. We read some of this in the digital futures for learning course.

    Anyway, lots and lots of food for thought in your artefact, and I enjoyed it very much. Thank you.

  •   Dennis Dollens // Oct 17th 2010 at 10:26 pm

    With resolution via Van Gogh synthesized through Seurat, La Grande Jatte, Pointillism seems in the tracking here, and further reduction via technology and visualization arriving at the pixel — maybe the reduction of the individual & individual message/vision; we move between the media and the message to continually evolve, but I’m not secure as information systems we are evolving into networks because of where you take us in the middle. When you bring in FDR, his inspirational, but super tough, words seem to me to change the network resolution of cultural, scientific, and social directional emphasis, to political relationships akin with current times; but with no FDR in sight and no “vision” no social consensus that a New Deal is/is not desirable, I’m beating my head between media evolution and political cynicism (and it’s taken me all week to come around and say it :-) . Michael I think this is a wonderful, masked work with a tough inner network — more Russian Constructivist cinematic than Prezi can handle; in the end I think Prezi betrays the message.

  •   Michael Sean Gallagher // Oct 18th 2010 at 3:14 pm

    Thanks for the great feedback, Jen. Good observation on the Youtube version and how my pacing was basically showing my allegiance to text, even though one of the functions of the visual artefact was to move away from that. It is like I am battling with myself on the supremacy of text and visuals.

    The network as participation does imply a sense of choice and personalization, but I think there is a filtering/sensemaking process at work on both the personal and community levels, not unlike democratic participation. So, on a personal (micro?) level I am channeling feedback, participating and making sense; further, the community is replicating this process (with different filters, perhaps) at the macro level. I am free to personalize (assuming the mores of the community aren’t too restrictive) and participate. I think we are exposed to shared experience and unexpected ideas even if we choose to filter those out.

  •   Michael Sean Gallagher // Oct 18th 2010 at 3:22 pm

    Dennis, I am blown away by the comments; truly appreciated. You are seeing further through this than I had anticipated (or even consciously considered when creating it). Agreed about the political metaphor being jarring, indeed perhaps not even a parallel path the rest of the narrative was trying to follow. I suppose what I was trying to portray is that every facet of this waking life bleeds into every other, that even Van Gogh would have been influenced by social, political, and economic turbulence around him.

    The political inclusion specifically of FDR was a container of sensemaking (not sure if that makes sense). Strife is less scary with leadership, vision trumps uncertainty, that sort of thing. In that instance, we lived in a fairly top down society where “vision” could be wrapped around everything in quite a containable fashion. The filter was applied at the top. Now, we have a dual filtering at work in our societies and networks. A personal one (the same type of sensemaking that Van Gogh engaged in (perceive, analyze, create)) and a larger network/community sensemaking exercise. You know, Dennis, you are reading me quite well. I actually had a frame from Battleship Potemkin in there to represent strife, but opted out. http://www.altfg.com/Stars/b/battleship-potemkin-2.jpg

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