Networks

According to Manuel Castells in his work Informationalism, Networks and the Network Society: A Theoretical Blueprint, a network society is defined as, “a society whose social structure is made of networks powered by microelectronics-based information and communication technologies.” (Castells 3) To further break down this definition he describes social structure as “the organizational arrangements of humans in relations of production, consumption, reproduction, experience and power expressed in meaningful communication coded by culture” (Castells 3). He says that networks are sets of interconnected nodes. The main point of his article is to argue that we are not, in fact, in the age of information or age of knowledge, but rather a network society. He argues that the three main features of networks are flexibility, scalability and survivability. Flexibility means that networks can change and reorganize based on changing environments. Scalability means that networks can alter their size without affecting the system as a whole. Survivabilility means that networks are durable because of the way they are set up. They can resist attacks on their nodes and find other ways to perform. Like other authors we have read thus far, Castells is concerned with the issues of time and space and how they relate to media. He believes that in a network society “the relationship to time is defined by the use of information and communication technologies in a relentless effort to annihilate time by negating sequencing” (Castells 37). In terms of space, Castells discusses the term “space of flows”. He says that space of flows is not placeless, but rather “places connected by electronically powered communication networks through which flows of information circulate and interace, which ensure the time sharing of practices processed in such a space” (Castells 36),
This issue of time and space brings me to one of the other readings from this week: Terese Rizzo’s Programming Your Own Channel: An Archaeology of the Playlist. In her article Rizzo discusses the evolution of the “playlist”, a term commonly used in music, for television. This is due to technological advancements such as Foxtel iQ, TiVo, YouTube, the iPod, etc. Because of these new inventions viewers are able to choose what they want and when, ignoring the “flow” set up by broadcast networks. This also prioritizes more specialized channels as people can pick and choose from different channels as opposed to watching whatever was offered by the broadcast network. I found her case study on Foxtel iQ particularly interesting. I am not familiar with Foxtel iQ but from what I have read it seems to be very similar to TiVo which I have had in my home for years. I have used the machines capabilities to personalize my television viewing in many ways. This includes “TiVoing” an entire season of my favorite show so I can watch each episode whenever I have time or all together at the end of the season if I choose. I also often Tivo a show even if I am home to watch it, just to avoid commercials. By waiting to watch until ten minutes into the program I can just fast forward through the commercials to make my viewing more pleasurable. TiVo/ Foxtel iQ is a really good example of how technological advances have changed our long established networks by making them more personalized.

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