Interactive telecommunications force a re-evaluation of what we have learned from television

Lovejoy talks about the juxtaposition of cyberspace, technology and humans, and how the formal has changed the way we interact. This reflections summarizes my notion of individualism that emerges from the creation of cyberspace, critically analyzing how the disappearance between private and public boundaries disrupts culture, social structure to create a blend of identity that is transcends categorization.

Erosion of social structure and culture

The emergence of cyberspace in the year 1982 by author William Gibson, which he coined in a fictional book and now become reality. Much so, the cyberspace, which largely consist of online networks and the internet had altered its position from being an escape from reality in the early 2000s, to reality being an escape from cyberspace in our current modern era. We were fascinated with what the internet had to offer, its possibilities were never-ending and our curiosity led us deeper into the world of cyberspace that we had unknowingly caged ourselves in a space we do not fully comprehend. Yet, we are so comfortable in this virtual space that we are blinded by its dangers; or choose to turn a blind eye on it.

The spying; the breaking down of barriers between private and public space for an individual was identified by Lovejoy as she denounces the cyberspace for this erosion. We tune in to our social domains and internet so often that we become ‘social’ by being ‘anti-social’, which is so ironic as we lose our sense of genuine, face to face communication and we rely and depend on the internet to hold our social interactions instead. We are unknowingly data-mined on a daily basis through our web browsers (cookies and service providers), spied on with our webcams and even voiced recorded and analyzed through machine learning to ‘personalize’ our user experience on Google, to receive advertisements on products we seem to voice out through our computers. Imagine having google ‘read our thoughts’, that is how the internet space is becoming.

We break the traditional perspective of hierarchy, as we are able to communicate to just about anyone with different statuses, different backgrounds and social standings.To further emphasize on this change, our culture has been eroded in a matter of years due to globalization and cyberspace interactions. Some cultures that took centuries to create are often neglected as they become obsolete in the cyberspace, as the internet becomes a borderless space that embraces every individual. People on the internet do not bond their traditional cultures per se, instead the main stream media has repudiated the idea of culture by promoting pop culture. A new, widely accepted culture that becomes a norm for everyone, regardless of nationality and race. The idea of promoting self was created by pop culture as a way to liberate ourselves from the stresses of having to conform to society.

Cyberspace as a venue for validation

We have created a persona, an impression that we wish to convey, a front made to convince others that this is actually the real us. Many seek validation online, through platforms such as Youtube and Instagram, as they constantly monitor their likes and shares on these social media platforms to validate their self-worth. It has become such a big issue that Instagram change its policies recently to remove the number of likes being displayed.

Social Media Influencers often provide the opportunity for people to live vicariously, to experience the crazy experiences such as travelling and living in luxury. ‘Followers’ tend to support these influencers in their lifestyles by ‘donating’ to them, and feel the satisfaction of seeing their influencers have the opportunity to live a lifestyle ‘funded’ by them. Unbeknownst to many living in such manner, we are guilty of doing so as we indulge in hours of drama on netflix, youtube surfing sports cars and house tours of mansions, amongst many other forms of entertainment. The availability of entertainment may cause some to stop short of living their own experiences as they are able to do so through others.

Individualism

We do see the social commentary on proprietary models that emerged from the 20th century through the form of WikipediaArt. WikipediaArt is a performance artwork that critically analyses the nature of art, knowledge and Wikipedia, a collaborative project by Nathaniel Stern and Scott Kildall.

Wikipedia Art

Although I appreciate and support the challenge against ownership and champion the idea of an open source thinking, it provokes me to think about individualism that arises from participation of WikiArt. Specifically, the fact that individuals are able to contribute to an artwork in an open source setting such as Wikipedia, and subsequently seeing it being taken down just 15 hours after its creation confirms that a sort of proprietary model still governs the open source platform. The backlash by the online community made me question: was the commotion really about criticizing ownership, or because expression by individuals were subdued? This expression makes me ponder about the people’s perception of contribution and ability to impact the cyberspace which they are actually concerned with, rather than simply denouncing Wikipedia’s ethics. The problem of individualism arises again as I believe people may be genuinely obsessed with their ability to create and impact on the cyberspace. The open source space of peer to peer interaction may be a mirage of peer to peer validation.

Conclusion

We live in an era where it is difficult to identify the long term benefits and consequences of engaging in the cyberspace. The disconnect from reality by communicating through the cyberspace and erosion of culture leads us to validate and identify ourselves in ways that we may not notice, and thus communicates our growth of individualism as we are reorganized through globalization. We will continue to find ways to belong and exist on the cyberspace as we inculcate in the young the need for technology.

Sources:

https://wikipediaart.org/

Vaidhyanathan, S. (2005). Open Source . In Open Source (p. 25).

 

PTSD Vest

We set out to design a vest that simulates an episode of PTSD experienced by a war veteran. This is a dark object that forces the user to distance himself from others in society due to his seemingly irrational behaviour. We recreated a scenario that encompasses how the veteran: came to develop this disorder, how he acts in a public situation and how people react to him. Scenario: Person A has PTSD, which he had developed from narrowly escaping death from a live grenade explosion. He is being pulled aside by his commander at the point of time, making touch a trigger for his PTSD. He crouches down/ prones to react to the ‘situation’, which triggers different sensors to sound/vibrate. In designing this vest, we are creating an understanding of how one might come about to develop PTSD and hopefully create room for sympathy.

 

Observational documentation for user tests

3 user tests

Tester A: She was able to get into the vest, albeit the tightness. We gave her verbal instructions to crouch as we didn’t play the video for her.

The circuit ran as intended, the photocell sensor triggered the sound “Grenade!” from processing and she crouched down. In sync with the explosion, the vibration went off as well. We did not tell her about the vibrations beforehand; this will make it a more genuine test to see whether the circuit was able to work properly (and well). She said she could feel vibrations on her chest, but they were subtle. Using this feedback, we decided to put in paddings in the front zipper pouch so that the vibration motor will be closer to the tester’s chest when s/he crouches down.

Tester B: It was a guy, who was rather big sized. He was able to fit into the vest as well as we did not pull the strap too tight. We gave him verbal instructions as per tester A, and this time round he was able to feel the vibration. As he wasn’t taking EI, he didn’t know what the circuit was for and was genuinely intrigued by the PTSD vest. At this point, we knew the circuit was working properly and was satisfied with our testings.

Tester C: Last guy, he is an exchange student and didn’t go through national service. We helped him put on the vest and gave verbal instructions. The test went smoothly; the vibration and sound came out as queued. Tester C said it sounded like “Renade” but we felt that it wasn’t much of an issue because he tested the object in an open environment and wasn’t able to hear clearly. He also mentions that the vest felt light, and didn’t feel like an operational vest. He suggested that we add some weight to it.

Notes:

  1. The grenade sfx and explosion sfx was too far apart, there wouldn’t be a sense of urgency to crouch down.
  2. We also took note of the timing for the entire experiment so that it would not become repetitive.

Improvements

As mentioned, we added the front paddings with stuffings for the rest of the grenade and magazine pouches. This would provide more chest contact. We didn’t use hard material as it would not follow the tester’s bend and would instead make it more difficult for him/her to feel the vibrations.

We added a water canteen(1l water bottle) on the right side, and 1kg dumbbell at the back. These, coupled with the weight of the ipad is similar to the actual weight of an operational vest with hard plates inserted(ours was way more comfortable than the actual).

We cut the videos (introduction brief and day-to-day scenario) to around 2mins. This would consist of about 5-6 triggers, which we felt was just right. On the day itself, Daryl was in charge of guiding the audience around the installation, and I was to help with the participant put on the vest and guide him/her through the scenarios.

Here is the context video for our PTSD Vest.

Here is our final installation.

Feedback from final installation and user test experience:

  1. We can look into using surround sound to make it more realistic and immersive.
  2. The lighting could have been adjusted to see the video better and yet create a realistic environment for the tester.

 

Design Process documentation

It is important to note that we have chosen the ILBV not only for its representation of an object used it war, but also for its robustness and ability to store and conceal multiple objects. During our initial phase, we had planned where we would place our individual sensors and power source (Daryl’s ipad).

We created a google slide file for our initial research and presentation purposes:

Dark object – PTSD Vest Research and Presentation

For more information on design process, you can refer to: Project Development – Ideation Sketches and Context planning

Step-by-step construction of our PTSD vest

Materials:
1. Arduino Uno
2. Photocell
3. Coin Vibration Motor
4. 220k Resistor
5. Cables
6. Vest
7. Grenade Explosion SFX Files
8. Tablet (that can run processing)

Programmes used: Arduino and Processing

Step 1: We started setting up the circuit. We bought the vibration motor and tested it with the arduino. We used a code from online and used different resistors to test the sensitivity of the vibration motor. It was slightly too strong (which shouldn’t be an issue) but that broke our first vibration motor. We were lucky to have bought a spare, and we taped it to whatever surface we were testing on so that it wouldn’t break apart.

Step 2: We uploaded the Arduino code; the photocell sensor would measure the light exposure in our environment. We set a threshold ”int threshold” so that when the amount of light exposure falls below the threshold, it would active the vibration motor and sending ”1” to Processing.

Step 3: Upload the ”Grenade” and explosion sfx into Processing. When ”1” is read, the ”Grenade sound” will go off. After a delay of a few seconds, the explosion sfx will play.

This was our initial voice recording: it wasn’t clear and created unnecessary ‘chaos’.

This was our final voice recording for ”Grenade”

Step 4: Setting up the arduino/ breadboard to the vest. This required us to construct a simple box to hold and protect the breadboard and arduino, and also 2x 1m wires to allow the photocell to be placed on the shoulder pad, and the vibration motor to place in the inner paddings of the vest. This is how we installed it:

  

 

Step 5: Setting up the physical space.

A: represents locality A.

X: Supposedly where the viewers would stand.

This would give us control for our experiment and prevent deviations.

Codes:

Schematics: