Re: [-empyre-] cultural interfacing

Hi Everyone:

First, this is a fascinating conversation. As an artist, a scholar and a teacher, I have been involved in studying new media culture, primarily as it relates to place and space (geography and social/cultural space). Some of my MFA-IA portfolio is online at under the reIMAGing SPlACE link. I add more as time allows.

That said, I am of the opinion (currently unfixed and subject to change as the proliferation of the network progresses) that we can use the web to empower and to educate. Through my work, I have shown how this can be so. I have also seen many network spaces where bigotry, hatred, discrimination, etc... continue.

Another site of mine, , unites folks throughout the world who have a coal mining heritage or an interest in the one or many of the facets of coal mining (industry, socioeconomics, ethnicity, etc ...) Mine Country began as a site to foster preservation and promote understanding of regional history (Appalachian Pennsylvania Anthracite Region). Over the years, it has become a vast network of scholars, researchers, students, history buffs, etc... Its online clubs, especially the Anthracite Region YAHOO! group, remain active and I do very little within the networked groups to foster discussion. It happens on its own and I love watching this.

As for, it's highly experimental and most interesting. Each of the art projects is based in place and each has a different aim. The photo gallery (My Coal Country link) is the most interesting to date. Rather than wax prosaic ad nauseum, I'll encourage you to visit the My Coal Country portion of the portfolio (under reIMAGing SPlACE).

Due to concerns about lack of access and lack of broadband access, I try to keep the sites minimal in design. For instance, at the My Coal Country gallery, the photographs will load fairly fast and people can go through them via clicks. For broadbanders, there is also music. When I designed this portion of the site, I tried to be mindful of the right for dialuppers to enjoy the gallery and lose nothing without waiting around for the music.

Gawd, I am going on. Again, this is a fascinating discussion to me and your "voices" have given me much to ponder as my work continues.

Christine Goldbeck

----- Original Message ----- From: "ricardo miranda zuniga" <>
To: "soft_skinned_space" <>
Sent: Wednesday, September 07, 2005 7:08 PM
Subject: Re: [-empyre-] cultural interfacing


I'm having trouble seeing the mistaken assumption that the account of
the killing of the 5 contract workers was from an Australian newspaper
as an interesting observation in terms of the geographical underpinnings
of the network.  It strikes me more as a naive assumption in not
recognizing the speed of information sharing due to the network.  I
would expect that most people would assume that the information
originated from the gulf coast and also that the report itself would
cite where it was taken from.  I'd be interested in reading more about
the geographical underpinnings that came to mind as you read the exchange.

One geographical and cultural element of the network that I find
interesting is that apparently transnational corporations are beginning
to pay more attention to researching and constructing web sites that
exist specifically to cater to a given culture and/or geographical
location.  With the growth of web accessibility, corporations are
increasingly concerning themselves in using the web to access new market
places and in doing so it seems that a universal web site format does
not exist.  I'm paraphrasing from Michael Cronin's Translation and
Globalization as he discusses the growing need for translators that will
help in the design of website usability for non-Western target groups.

It seems to me that as globalization tactics get smarter and diversify,
we are merely facing new modes of colonization.  As more people access
the web, many, particularly the youth of a given culture will be
attracted to newness and freshness so that US pop sites such as MTV2
become a new means to access hip popular trends.  The fact that people
are attracted to what seems fresher and cutting edge, is nothing new.  I
recall long ago being surprised by listening to my kid cousin in
Nicaragua singing the latest US hits while not knowing English or the
meaning of the words that he was singing.  But in this context the web
becomes the latest tool for cultural colonization.  I wonder if its
effects will be the same as television or radio, or do the parameters of
effect increase?  After all the web may be used as a learning tool much
more effectively than television or radio.  Or rather than considering
growing web accessibility as a form of colonization, is it more so a
means to empowerment?

Ryan, thanks for sharing the excellent review of inSite's panel
discussion from late May; I'd like to tie your review to the questions
I'm presenting above.   Particularly Sally Stein questioning "the role
of information communication technologies in the construction of social
spaces..."  Although Stein focused on cell phone use and likely personal
space in stating as you wrote -  "it is the technology's role in
facilitating both connection and isolation that was of interest to
Stein. 'We may be more 'connected' more often, but to whom?' she asked.
Are our social circles more inclusive or exclusive as a result of how we
choose to use communication devices?"

Christina McPhee wrote:

> So that you force into a tight juxtaposition the fact based
> documentary, the Q and A, with a really direct GUI design that
> probably runs well on 56k.  I've always loved the apparent artlessness
> of your online work, its really flat out, no frills, no bullshit
> interface.  Certainly this interface itself is an expression of the
> Tijuana Calling theme, because your minimal style is super accessible
> both artistically and in terms of bandwith...

i'm not sure about the characterization of Ricardo's interface design
as being "no frills"... there is certainly a minimalist quality that
kind of resembles graphic novels and the like, but i think there's a
baroqueness to them that is well beyond the minimum requirements for a
usable interface. maybe i'm reading christina's remarks the wrong way,
but the "flat out, no bullshit interface" qualification seems
misleading maybe. not that the interface is "bullshit" ;) but i
certainly wouldn't call it "no bullshit" either, as that seems to
suggest a lack of artifice, which i think is really present in
Ricardo's work. and by artifice, i don't mean "surface" or "falsity"
but certainly aesthetic and narrative.
but, perhaps this is really beside the point, the questions initiating
the discussion are the ones that seem more important to focus on...
considering how the net re-enacts geography is an interesting point of
departure, especially for projects like inSite and how those projects
will be discussed and framed through a channel like empyre.
i attended some of the pre-interventions events for inSite05 last year,
and made a small report based on my thoughts on some of these ideas:
just yesterday, i was reading various blogs and on-the-ground accounts
from the US gulf coast, and came across a discussion about the alleged
killing of 5 contract workers by NOLA police as they crossed a bridge,
supposedly carrying weapons for protection. Someone posted this story
to an anarchist discussion board, linked to an Australian newspaper
site. then someone immediately commented that it was ridiculous to
consider a report from an Australian newspaper as accurate, due to its
geographic distance from the site in question. Of course, it turns out
that the story was from the AP. but the brief exchange pointed out some
interesting things in terms of the geographical underpinnings of the
network. A friend of mine thinks that we should expect a psychological
moving of the border north. i don't know about that, but i'm sure the
psychogeography of the US will be impacted by this.

empyre forum

ricardo miranda zuñiga

empyre forum

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