Distributed Networks

A “distributed network” is a term that is used to describe the construction of an art work or the construction of a narrative across a ‘distributed network’ such as the Internet (I have yet to discover what this might mean for an historian). There is an excellent paper online written by Dr Jill Walker of the University of Bergen (given at the Association of Internet Reserchers AOIRs in September) where she talks about distributed networks in terms of story telling and narrative.

A new kind of narrative is emerging from the network: the distributed
narrative. Distributed narratives don?t bring media together to make a
total artwork. Distributed narratives explode the work altogether, sending fragments and shards across media, through the network and sometimes into the physical spaces that we live in. This paper begins an investigation into this new narrative trend, looking at how narrative is spun across the network and into our lives.


Adam Thrilwell’s Politics

Adam Thrilwell’s novel Politics is as energetic as it is neurotic as English as it is universal. The universal themes primarily surround the sex scenes which are generational in an occasional hackneyed fashion, but rescued by a biting insight and honesty (There is a lot of energy in honesty and it is always better to be honest than truthful). It is a bright novel, in no way vapid or insipid, and reveals the intelligence of a broad reading within a humanist, historical, and personal canon.

Thrilwell is not a dilettante but employs a staccato pace that is penetrating, unpretentious and once more honest. Just when you think the tread of a reflection or comment in the prose is all but exhausted he takes it one more step; taking his reader well beneath the surface (or even the sheets). The prose is littered with the traces of the past, mostly idiosyncratic bites from the masters of Eastern Europe or political tyrants. He discusses Mao’s venereal diseases and Stalin’s phone manner. There is Bulkacov and Yeates and Stendhal and architectural spattering with semen and threesomes and guilt and love.

It is an endearing novel and the meditative narrator opens the work to the reader through a reflection on the process of writing it which doesn’t privilege the form of the work over the significance (or enjoyment) of the story. He uses ‘I’ in a self-effacing manner rather than an egocentric manner.

And I suppose that if I do the same here, that is reflect upon writing this book review on a web log, then what is gained? There are lots of web logs and many are merely self indulgent naval gazing that have little or no significance to anyone, perhaps not even to the hollowed out author. The worst are web logs that discuss the process of the web log but do nothing more. It is icing without a cake, it is the surface without a soul. The ability to write well is part of the story, but it can never be the whole story. Many tyrants have been able to write well and many chemists have been able to innovate murdering. Many IT specialists have been able to spread ignorance, jealously, greed, shallowness, and inequality more efficiently. Many have not.

Lobby groups and protest communication

I suppose that an interesting thing to think about is who would benefit from a history of ephemeral and interest group political communication within Australia? There is the process to consider ie.. How has political communication penetrated the main stream and how has it been successful? Lobby groups and radical groups may fine this information of benefit because they may not have the money to penetrate the mainstream media. There are also success stories to consider. ie. What was once a lobby groups or a radical group may now be the mainstay of mainstream political communication. And an interesting issues to consider is how has public culture facilitated political communication especially in terms of newer communication mediums such as the Internet. How is public culture being protected as a means to facilitate protest and ephemeral communication which is a vital component of a vigorous democracy?

Humanities Computing


…to understand the legitimacy of a culture we need to investigate its relation to the archive, the site for the accumulation of records. Archive reason is a kind of reason which is concerned with detail, it constantly directs us away from the big generalisations, down to the particularity and singularity of the event. Increasingly the focus has shifted from archiving the lives of the good and the great down to the detail of mundane everyday life. (Mike Featherstone, 2000)

With a particular emphasis on hypertext theory, coupled with a survey of the field of Humanities Computing, I will explicate how Milkbar.com.au positions itself within the eclectic applications of online electronic scholarship in the Humanities.[1] Hypertext theory has (since the early 1960s) made significant inroads into the Humanities because hypertext is the seminal concept energising the global Internet.[2] And Humanities Computing is the most influential field of practice-based computing in the Humanities. Milkbar.com.au borrows practices from both Humanities Computing and hypertext discourse.

Continue reading “Humanities Computing”

Fitzroy as a post-industrial frontier

Post-Industrial Frontiers

The suburb of Fitzroy may not be one of the most significant nodes in the globalised world but in a similar way to other inner city districts of Melbourne and elsewhere it does have significant symbolic engagements with the world. Because it is Melbourne's oldest suburb (and thus richly historically layered) and because of its recent history as a working class industrial suburb (this in particular) means that Fitzroy has small histories that do resonate in some of the mainstay globalisation debates.

Fitzroy is one miniature stage within a networked global theatre. And the play is perchance a reflection upon the theatre itself.

Globalisation discourse dances around the totems of immigration, corporatisation, gentrification (through the new middle-class), the environment, global civil society and the broader concerns of the post-industrialisation of the major Western economies. Corporations are understood as the great pariah in the globalisation debate and post-industrialisation produces a throng of knowledge workers who cram the cafes of the gentrified inner cities. [1]

Continue reading “Fitzroy as a post-industrial frontier”

Gentrification in Fitzroy

Fitzroy is the archetype of a post-industrial Australian suburb. As Manual Castells, the Economic Geographer Kevin O'Connor, and a plethora of other authors argue, post-industrialism is the underlying catalyst for the present globalisation process.[1]

Inner city Australian communities are experiencing rapid gentrification, closing factories, rising rents and property values, and the appropriation of the working class culture that originally defined the suburbs. This is forcing out many of the long-term residents in favour of an eclectic mix of wealth distribution, lifestyles, and cultures.

Many claim that Australia is now being defined less and less by our historically definitive rural regions (as well as the great material and social egalitarianism of our post-war middle suburbs) and increasingly (for better or worse) by the culture of our inner cities, the fringes of our cities, and our bay-side towns. [2]

These changes can in part be linked to some of the major structural changes that are understood as globalisation. For instance, Fitzroy is a suburb where the factories that used to make clothes and confectionary now house the apartments of the new middle classes.[3] This is part of a larger global trend in developed countries where the majority of the workforce has shifted from the manufacturing industries into the service industries.[4]

Continue reading “Gentrification in Fitzroy”

What is globalisation?

What is globalisation?

Thankfully, globalisation is not understood as being one thing. Different groups (depending on their social and geographical positioning) interpret it in various ways depending on their own political circumstances. The minimal working definitions of globalisation (or dare I say ‘globalism') circulate around the belief that complex interconnections are rapidly developing between societies, institutions, cultures, collectives and individuals worldwide. The growth of the  Internet is part of globalisation.

These connections are believed to occur between cultural and economic practices that are local, national, technological and corporate. Globalisation is often discussed in terms of inevitability by governments, activists and academics but in my mind there is no such thing as inevitability only conformity and compliance.

Continue reading “What is globalisation?”