luciano petullà

systems and dimensions of new communication

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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A pit-stop to update the knowledge on the technological body The outcry about spy system of electronic communications named PRISM – built by US National Security Agency involving worldwide citizens – rose indignation as well as a general brainstorming. Pressed by public opinion, politics outside US had occasion to show sad and disarming disbelief, a linear reaction with the historic delay that characterizes legislative power incapable to get a timely understanding of the most “hard” technological dynamics. However, ICT turbo-development and its fast concatenation with economic, political and cultural factors gives all us a lot of alibi for trudging. Yet, as privileged people that can use a such sophisticated ICT systems, we should not accept naivety as excuse. (On the contrary, we could legitimately skip, without thinking, that sort of moral panic surrounding new media because outdated. So to speak, scholar John Durham Peters found out a deep connection between privacy and the fear of dissemination linking them to a kind of disorder of eros: massification of contacts, dangers of exchanges, confusion among inputs and outputs, miss of delivery, publicity …). More prosaically, the PRISM case involves other dimensions: the functional shift of internet web toward application/walled garden containers and the…

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+Digital Literacy-Digital Divide A recent discussion appeared on very prestigious newspaper and magazine pushes us to advance some considerations about how people envision critically the new communication platforms and media. More specifically, about the best approach to manage their increasing complexity given that, in front of a such innovative effervescence, we will always remain in a defective position. My consideration is simple and evident  but still hard to be accepted by someone: digital communication flowing and building itself through innumerable and changeable  software on fix and mobile network became – and will remain – an important and inevitable condition  for our existence.  Being an ubiquitous and connective element/environment, and a product of a continuous and unstoppable development, we need to understand how to hear it, how to face its will (see Kevin Kelly’s provocation), but even and more better, how to personally engage it to increase human agency (see Howard Rheingold). The uncertain status of digital divide The cited discussion focuses on a ICT classical topic as the inequality of digital access and uses by people living in different regions – and, in an extended but more undefined meaning  – and/or have different social status. On the other side, the…

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On sectorial crisis and law pitfalls Although we used to think that it’s better to project small business in a big picture, we often suffer the lack or availability of appropriate analysis. Absorbed by tasks, weak in forces or distracted by hyper-activism of a interested counter-information, we remain in the wake of mainstream thoughts, anchored to biased and insufficient ideas to support/contest actions and decisions can limit our media agency. Indeed, after the great adoption of internet services, many policy-makers – directly or indirectly moved by sectoral complaints – asked us to take position against media piracy and practices that are destroying value and jobs in cultural industry. Even I prefer to write in a long form into my suchlike blog, I would have a hard task to face the whole arguments that these questions require to gain a clear view – thematic range usually starts with economy, touches law and inevitably arrives to democracy. When I tried to develop a thought it takes many pages, the space needed to check aspects, principles and points of view raised by changes electronic technologies introduced since 1980s in legislation, business and uses around media. Yet past experiences left the desire to return…

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Questions about clouds Since XX century ICTs demonstrated to be able to spring changes in almost every sectors of society. Meanwhile, we have had a quite imprecise ideas about resources and tools enforcing their power, a fact that helps the rise of a mythological aura around them. On the other side, we were increasingly involved by these machines even only as simple users. Indeed, ICTs involved mass-users only with the internet of 2000s, both infiltrating their tools and languages into common life and requiring some technical alphabetisation. More precisely, the democratisation of computers in terms of real availability and ability to friendly manage and program began for an increasing group of people in the 80s. They started a process that spreads ICT knowledge/resourses and their subtraction to public and private monopolies. The diffusion of personal computers resulted an indispensable prerequisite for what we now define “software culture”. Initially developed as mere platform of data elaboration, networked personal computers became parts of a communicative territory of proposal, elaboration and aggregation of individual and group projects where hw/sw procedures/materials combine continuously each other to feed new forms of languages and cultures. As the lawyer and economist Yochai Benkler well explained, technological and…

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About superficiality or deepness of pop culture Every time great changes or peculiar innovations related to communication media involving speedily (historically speaking) a vast part of population, the probability to assist to a debate on their dangerous effects and consequent pros and cons discussion rises. As Umberto Eco admirably indicated in an essay dedicated to pop culture (1964), the phenomenon relays on a consolidated logics in which apocalyptic and integrated face each others. On a side there is people look at new uses and practices as the advent of “Barbarian”, on the other side people read them as signs and proofs of a more viable ways to tackle otherwise untreatable issues or flourish suppressed sensibility with more effective and expressive savoir. Sometimes clashes can even occupy newspaper front pages involving different personalities that have to face complex processes shrinking them in little lines. It happened lastly in Italian newspaper «Il Sole 24 ore», but even in USA and England with «New York Times», «Wall Street Journal», and «Guardian». Guided from the typical pragmatism characterized Anglo-American culture, the terms of debate can be also reduced to stupidity and smartness. So, Nicholas Carr, journalist and technologist, underlines the decadence of our mind…

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