luciano petullà

systems and dimensions of new communication

From Lollipop to the enchanted objects Although resulting quite elusive and so equally fascinating, having to deal with design as topic became a “must” even for people interested in communication technology since the iPhone has been launched in 2007. Meantime, centrifugal explosion of digital media in people’s social and personal life, alongside with multiple use of digital interfaces, puts design at the centre of industries as mode to differentiate products and satisfy users’ needs and desires. On the other hand, while our body-mind goes through digital portals for hundreds times every day, changes in digital design are also symptom on how fastly and (almost) unawares we dwell and readapt our personal and social being. Indeed, as someone said, mobile screens have become the real third place of human living, being hard to find places or activities where digital screens are absent. However, digital design should be thought as part  of design work, which aims to elaborate solutions that simplify, in a given temporal context, interactions among persons and objects/devices inside a play of reciprocal adaptation/stimulation, mainly an enriching encounter between human beings – dominated by an alchemy of feelings, senses and rationality – and human artifacts – material objects, mechanisms/procedures of…

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The feeble belly of internet Lately, digital activist, American scholar and journalist Ethan Zuckerman complained about his past as supporter of what he defines the “Internet’ s original sin”, namely exploitation of advertising as business model to start and manage online services. Although he had many fellows, the present director of MIT Center for Civic Media has a point to blame himself. In 1995 Zuckerman worked and implemented the so hated ad pop-ups, those web pages full of advertising messages that, during our browsing, suddenly occupy all our vision entrapping us nervously while we make vain tentatives to move on. However, Zuckerman’s mea culpa does not accuse advertising communication rather its use as primary revenue source for the most popular online services that, inevitably, implies user surveillance. On the other hand, advertising was a easy driver for internet start-ups to justify their business plans. However, given the increasing competition to catch user attention and the decline of value of visual impressions, online advertising is much more appreciated when consumers are effectively targeted. Yet, surveillance is not only for ads targeting. First of all, online ads need to be controlled to avoid abuses as click-fraud (generation of impressions by people, automated…

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Labour crisis and technological unemployment The social and economic changes have always animated modern era, and, since the half of Seventeenth century, they often were so radical we used the term “revolution” to evidence the need of a deep existential readaptation for people life. The problematic relationship between jobs and technological innovation, that cyclically arises when a relevant crisis affects production and consumption models, is also an old story. The American economist John Maynard Keynes thought of it as inescapable phenomenon, coining the term technological unemployment (1930). Obviously, issue feeds hot discussions normally ending with a dichotomous scheme between people that consider industrial and commercial competitive dynamics seeing technology as a gift for its capacity to create new realities/activities, and people that, on the contrary, think of it as a ruin for almost every sort of occupation. Nowadays, in front of a persistent economic crisis associated with a general restructuration of many business helped by digital connected technologies embedded (almost) in every things, this issue assumes great centrality. Or, otherwise said, there are many suggestions to frame it as a relevant argument because humane society radically changes when new communication and energy paradigms are available. American sociologist Jeremy Rifkin explains…

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Sometimes, developments and analysis connect themselves again, traveling through the same metaphors in which, in the meantime, our lives (deeply) are unfolding …                   References Gruman, G., 2014, “Welcome to the next tech revolution: Liquid computing”, in Infoworld.com, July 15, 2014. Petullà, L., 2008, Media e computer liquidi, Milano, Lampi di Stampa.

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danah boyd and the adolescent probes Describing the socio-cultural context in which communication technologies are situated and used is an evident merit of danah boyd, a very polyedric American social researcher, herself digital native, scholar and professionist – at moment Principal Researcher at Microsoft. Consequently, her works are not easily summarizable through slogans. In the case of her last work, a book gathering a long series of researches on teens’ sociability, the warning comes immediately from the title. In effect, It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens can be interpretated in two ways: the difficulty to understand social media uses thinking only in terms of social destiny determinated by technological aspects, and difficulty of people to act, among opportunities and challenges, in the new and interactive digital environments. On the other hand, although focused on teens, author sees teenagers as an ideal-typical case because, whether they are advantaged in handling and switching accross media, on the challenge-side they suffer for lack in life experience and social power. The counterpoint about the real and problematic issues of their digital lives balances narratives describing teens as human beings highly facilitated by digital technologies. In effect, while the digital migrants are engaged…

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Limits, enterprises, and accountability of cultural software A recent ad campaign promoted by UN and created to warn about worldwide spread of sexist and discriminatory opinions regarding female population has been based on Google searching functions. More precisely, it focuses on suggestions furnished by autofilling function after some words as “women should …” have been introduced. Both (supposedly) based on frequently searching operations and recognized textual combinations of internet contents, the algorithm showed all stereotyped ideas running in the world. In ad campaign women are shown with a sort a gag represented by Google’s suggestions that, covering their mouths, have the effect to silence true voices and personalities. The success of campaign (credits: Memac Ogilvy & Mather Dubai) to reveal such prejudices in a very incisive way and so oddly timely – if we think of our post-modernity so sophisticatedly supported in terms of technologies of thought – can be measured by the huge debate on twitter (hashtag: #womenshould) but also by imitations: see Australian initiative Racism. It Stops With Me. In the past this online space hosted a reflection on the importance of language to structure human being in the continuous process of interaction with environment – so, not…

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The body of avatar What a weird and fascinating story the award recently assigned to Scarlett Johansson by the 2013 Rome Film Festival for her vocal interpretation in the last Spike Jonze’s movie “Her”. The actress interprets the voice of computer’s operating system, with which the protagonist ends to fall in love. Given the Italian policy to dub every foreign movies, much irony has flourished because a such vocal performance will be never appreciated by local audience. Moreover, both Johansson and many other winners have attended awards through video messages. Indeed, it’s already sure: we are used to meet each others indifferently in a mixed way of online/offline presence, in this case much more online. Thanks to its fundamental sensitivity for phantasmatic forms, by which “the maximum of reality” can be produced (Alberto Abruzzese), cinema industry takes responsibility to certificate it. However, the actress made a preventive visit to the festival that was intended as a crafty operation to reanimate ambitions of a festival declining on the wake of a double crisis: those of Italian cinema industry and city budget, having the Capital  the major role in exhibition organization. (Many people blamed the fact that, finally, the visit has been paid…

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From the crisis of control to the turn of hypercontrol One of the most interesting thesis on marketing and advertising explains how their rise spread from a reaction to an increasing state of lack of control. In the XIX century a huge industrial push increased enormously a productive capacity that, suddenly, had to wide its selling horizon – and, as result, the terms of consumption. Marketing and advertising engaged themselves on how to match producer and consumer needs at large scale. After some centuries, we can say that marketing gained esteem and dignity regarding its original aim. Unfortunately, considerations about advertising effectiveness are less enthusiastic if we still comment it using the phrase “spray and pray”. However, diffusion and use of online media have increased very much  chances to overcome this never-ended skepticism on the ability to hook the timely needs of users with knowledge and speed. At the beginning of this reflection we have to make a premise about what we have experimented in the meanwhile. Everywhere there is the possibility to find people or environment/events polarizing human attention, there is also the certitude to meet some kinds of advertising elaborated by marketing strategies.  As result, attention prompts by…

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The nightmare of cages and the ferment of contradictions For the nations collocated (geographically and culturally) in the Western regions of world, August is notoriously a month in which holiday thoughts – in the reality of their transformation, namely either in vacation or frustration – can promote ambiguous feelings that, however, become source of distraction. At moment, we don’t know much about the reason behind  temporary downtime of all Google services, but that kind of distraction could explain the fall of one of the main pillar of internet. (Somebody jokingly ties the failure with the fresh decision made by Google to eliminate the possibility for its workers to dedicate part of their job time  for projects outside their own specific tasks). The blackout lasted 11 minutes (In Europe from 1:37 to 1:48 AM).  A such incident didn’t occur since many years but now for internet Google has a much heavier role. To be clear, for some analysts  internet global traffic dropped of 40%! Indeed, a big event. “As users, we confide very much on Google ” was a very common comment. However, much of what we use on the Net is structured (fused) on architectures and mechanisms running on computer…

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The mirage of Silicon Valley   People used to follow digital product development very often stumble upon comments and reflections about vitality and expertize that some peculiar regional areas have for finding product solution and founding high-tech successful companies. On the other hand, the black shadow over our economic scenario  and the recurrent postponement of its end certify the tough passage of post-industrial era with its effects of turbulent environment on economy. So, the flexibility and applicability of electronics, software and telecommunication show prized characteristics to more readily face  both changes and prospectives in industry and consumption. The aim of this brief contribution  will be to problematically tackle vulgates around start-up initiatives starting from two interesting articles. If I  have reached them personally and casually in the last two week, there should be a growing and global demand (perhaps also concerns) to insert itself among nations that can have a such kind of munitions to deal with a less problematic future in terms of jobs and growth – in the wake of simplistic strategy of “me too”… The passage of time doesn’t seem to scratch the longing of that special place whose name is Silicon Valley, indeed, internet age magnify…

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