Johndan Johnson-Eilola’s Datacloud

Johndan Johnson-Eilola
Datacloud: Toward a New Theory of Online Work
Area: Digital Media

•    Users in these environments created and used rules on the fly
•    Postmodern collage: juxtaposition of elements that doesn’t’ merely link both, but deconstructs the stability of each other’s meaning
•    “The Whole is more than – and less than – the sum of its parts
•    Articulation: a “unity”; connection between two elements in certain conditions
•    What we though was noise in the channel turns out to be another signal
•    Contemporary parables emphasize power of vision to understand and control space and subjectivity (Clockwork Orange)
•    Breakdown = power = first phase of rebuilding
•    Articulation Theory: Stuart Hall; “a way to understand the complex formatting of ideological subjects in contemporary culture.  Most important, articulation theory offers a way to represent the possibility of resistance to dominant cultural formations.  Articulation theory represents a response to traditional Marxism, which tends to position citizens in capitalist cultures as completely determined by the ideological superstructures.  A.T. also responds to postmodernism, which tends to represent people as increasingly and overwhelmingly fragmented by the breakdown in symbol systems that constitute contemporary culture.  In other words, A.T. accepts the breakdowns of contemporary culture, but also insists there are contingently coherent cultures and ongoing, constantly under identities” (18).
•    Symbolic Analytic Work: Robert Reich; “describes the type of work done by a wide range of people in the burgeoning information economy. SAWers, as the title suggests, manipulate symbols.  This new classification comprises a host of cultural elite professionals: architects, systems analysts, investment bankers, research scientists, management consultants, and so on.  Clearly not every member of these professions falls within the ranks of symbolic analysts, but the subgroup across each of these professions excels at working with information—not merely simplifying information to make it clear, but working within information, filtering, rearranging, transforming, and making connections to address specific, specialized problems.  SAWers are people we might think of as technical rhetoricians working in the datacloud” (18-9).
•    Interfaces are cultural constructions
•    Articulation: a process of breakdown and reconstruction
•    In postmodern culture, subjectivities are multiple and conflicting
•    Hall: correspondences must be actively constructed
•    SAWers collect, rearrange, filter and connect bits of information for particular contexts and needs
•    Four key areas of education for symbolic analysts to reinvent education in a postindustrial age: collaboration, experimentation, abstraction, and system thinking
Critical Moments
4: “We live in a cloud of data, the datacloud—a shifting and only slightly contingently structured information space.  IN that space, we work with information, rearranging, filtering, breaking down, and combining.  We are not looking for simplicity, but interesting juxtapositions and commentaries.  This is the vague shape and erratic trajectory of the coming revolution.”
13: “One instant we are shown images of those who , have successfully managed to ride the wave (Microsoft’s ‘Where do you want to go today?’ promises to take us anywhere if we can just keep our directories and bookmarks in order) and the next instant we read stories of dot.com millionaires suddenly penniless when the edifices they built collapse (“What’s the big surprise? Their castles were built of information instead of brick and mortar!”)
16: “Datacloud occupies neither end of the continuum between utopia and dystopia.  Paradoxically, it also avoids simply sitting in the middle, paralyzed between two extremes.  Instead the situations and events I discuss here move back and forth between these poles, attempting to construct a three-dimensional space in relation to but perpendicular to the other two dimensions.”


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October 2008
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