The Palgrave Handbook of Olympic Studies is out now with a chapter by Jennifer Jones and I on the Olympic Movement's digital assets, monetization and more.
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The Palgrave Handbook of Olympic Studies is out now with a chapter by Jennifer Jones and I on the Olympic Movement's digital assets, monetization and more.
A new book edited by Hanna Harris with Suvi Kukkonen, Olli-Matti Nykänen and Jenni Tuovinen, of the Finnish Institute in London, considers the role of community media today. It includes a Q&A with me, pasted in text below:
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I employ a very generous definition of community media. My minimal condition is that it should involve the creation of media artefacts that make a difference to how people conduct their lives in a way that transcends leisure or entertainment. If we begin here, then we need not start of with a division that is about professionalism, economics or even ideology. Indeed, each of these dimensions have become more complicated in the last five years. as social media and digital technology have changed what it means to be do media production. This minimal condition also means that we can start off by deriving common ground for collaboration between different types of media producer and perhaps re-think the role of media in society.
There are two primary reasons for why community media is necessary. The first is that it emerges out of a lack in other forms of media production, which are perceived to fail in their social responsibilities to communicate information, or because they are governed by a political agenda that undermines the value of their content. However, I think the more persuasive reason for why community media is necessary is that the production of media artefacts creates communities. The desire to share opinions and knowledge is a powerful motivation that explains why community media exists. It's an integral part of how we define citizenship, freedom of speech and what it is to be human.
Future media has promised to change community media for quite some time. In the 1990s, Web 1.0 gave rise to new media producers and brought waves of debate about convergence between media forms. In the 2000s, Web 2.0 brought about a collapse of the consumer and producer. People could now create and share media content in a previously unimaginable way. Each of these shifts did not completely alter the way in which community media operated, but it empowered many people to do more than was possible to achieve previously. The media of the 2010s is defined by mobility and practices of community media are shifting towards delivering content for people on the move, in miniature, and even in 3D. At the same time, media artists are working with scientists to develop biomedia technology, a way of integrating media within our biology using biochips. These innovations will change all media experiences and may completely reconfigure the relationship between community media and global media organizations.
While the expansion of media technology has narrowed the digital divide, there remains a growing digital literacy divide that community media organizations can help to address. At the same time, we now operate within an attention economy where the biggest challenge for media outlets is the short window of opportunity through which to capture peoples interests. It is said that the average life of any social media artefact is 3hrs, after which it is highly unlikely to trend or capture much interest. In part, this has changed the role of community media organizations where an increasingly important part of their job is to curate the media output of community members, rather than provide a media production service for a community. We need to help people do that better.
All publications are equal, but some are more equal than others and this is one such book for me given the other contributors. The book is published by the Spanish bank BBVA, as part of its OpenMind programme. It is a beautiful hardback book and a fascinating collection of essays, considering our present times. Thus, its sections are
This may be the only critical academic book publication, published by a national bank, to cover such subjects and the authors are excellent company. They consist of:
John R. Boatright, Joseph H. Carens, Thomas Clarke, Richard T. De George, R. Edward Freeman, Mervyn Frost, Francisco Gonzalez, Geert Hofstede, Bernardo Kliksberg, Peter Koslowski, Hans Kung, Andy Miah, Carl Mitcham, Mollie Painter-Morland, Reinhard H. Schimdt, Kristin Schrader-Frechette, Robert A. Schultz, Peter Singer, Charles Taylor, Mary Warnock.
My essay focuses on the Ethics of Human Enhancement, here's the pdf.
Just published a new book chapter in this large 2-part volume by SAGE. My chapter is on Leadership in New Media. Here's a link to the book:
Finally, here's an outline of the contents (taken from the draft version):
Leadership in Science and Technology Edited by William Sims Bainbridge Leadership in Science and Technology, a 2-volume set within the SAGE Reference Series on Leadership, tackles issues relevant to leadership in the realm of science and technology. Progress in science and technology is a truly global enterprise, and leaders must have not only organizational skills and solid scientific expertise but also a vision to see farther than others do and social skills to join together other creative scientists and engineers to see how their work might contribute to a greater whole. This handbook will have 100 topics arranged under eight headings. Volume 1 will focus on general principles of science and technology leadership, whereas Volume 2 will provide case studies of leadership in science and technology. There are really three related audiences for this handbook. First, students will use it as a reference work, certainly for their school projects and perhaps even to help them think through future careers they themselves might have in science and technology. Second, faculty and social science researchers will draw upon it for ideas, lecture material, literature citations, and other information that will contribute to their work. Third, policy makers and other leaders in science and technology fields will draw upon it for inspiration and practical advice. The general outline of the two volumes is as follows: Volume I: General Principles of Science and Technology Leadership 1. Social-scientific Perspectives on Science and Technology Leadership 2. Key Scientific Concepts about Leading and Innovating in Science and Technology 3. Characteristics of Science and Technology Leaders and their Contexts 4. Strategies, Tactics, and Tools of Science and Technology Leadership Volume II: Case Studies of Leadership in Science and Technology 5. Leadership in Informal Communities of Scientists and Engineers 6. Leadership in Government Projects and Research Initiatives 7. Leadership in Industry Research, Development, and Innovation 8. Leadership in Education and University-Based Research As of December 31, 2009, authors had agreed to write 69 of the projected 100 chapters: 002. Anthropology - Baba, Marietta L. https://www.msu.edu/~mbaba/ 003. Cognitive Science - Rubin, Philip http://www.haskins.yale.edu/staff/rubinbio.html 007. Philosophy - Kronz, Frederick M. http://uts.cc.utexas.edu/~kronz/ 009. Future Studies - Sardar, Ziauddin http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ziauddin_Sardar 010. Social Psychology - Lovaglia, Michael J. http://www.uiowa.edu/~soc/people/lovaglia.html 011. Sociology - Bainbridge, William Sims http://www.nsf.gov/staff/staff_bio.jsp?lan=wbainbri&org=IIS&from_org=IIS 012. Diffusion of Innovation - Gluesing, Julia Catherine http://www.ime.wayne.edu/bio.php?id=857 013. National Pre-eminence - Greenfeld, Liah http://www.bu.edu/uni/faculty/profiles/greenfeld.html 014. Human Subjects Research - Craig-Henderson, Kellina M. http://www.gs.howard.edu/gradprograms/social_psychology1.htm 015. Research Groups - Hackett, Edward J. & Parker, John N. https://sec.was.asu.edu/directory/person/33115 016. Mechanizing Ethics - Wallach, Wendell http://www.yale.edu/bioethics/studygrps_techno.shtml 017. Sustainability - Fischer, Douglas H. http://www.vuse.vanderbilt.edu/~dfisher/ 018. Technological Convergence - Roco, Mihail C. http://www.nsf.gov/eng/staff/mroco.jsp 019. Standards of Research and Misconduct - Braxton, John http://peabody.vanderbilt.edu/x4611.xml 020. Creative Destruction - McKnight, Lee W. & Kuehn, Andreas http://ischool.syr.edu/facstaff/member.aspx?id=355 021. Moral Exemplars - Huff, Charles William & Hughes, Kelly S. http://www.stolaf.edu/people/huff/ 022. Controversies - Martin, Brian http://www.uow.edu.au/~bmartin/ 023. Design Innovation - Maher, Mary Lou http://www.nsf.gov/staff/staff_bio.jsp?lan=mmaher&org=NSF 024. International Cooperation Suskin, Mark http://www.nsf.gov/staff/staff_bio.jsp?lan=msuskin 025. Political Economy - Taylor, Mark Zachary http://www.inta.gatech.edu/faculty-staff/listing.php?uID=36 027. Fallibility and Authority - Roush, Sherrilyn http://philosophy.berkeley.edu/roush 029. Human Dimensions of Biology - Maienschein, Jane http://sols.asu.edu/people/faculty/jmaienschein.php 030. Gender Diversity - Frehill, Lisa http://www.cpst.org/web/site/pages/welcome/Lisa_Bio.html 031. Intellectual Property Rights - Clarkson, Gavin http://www.gavinclarkson.com/ 032. Product Liability - Cantor, Robin http://www.exponent.com/robin_cantor/ 034. Public Attitudes Toward Science and Technology - Inglehart, Ronald http://polisci.lsa.umich.edu/faculty/ringlehart.html 035. Urban and Regional Planning - Tonn, Bruce http://isse.utk.edu/staff/tonn.html 036. Science Careers - Hermanowicz, Joseph http://www.uga.edu/soc/people/faculty/hermanowicz_joseph.php 038. Ethics as Constraints and Goals - Gorman, Michael E. http://repo-nt.tcc.virginia.edu/homepage/mg/ 039. Gatekeeping - Harris, Rebecca http://williams.wlu.edu/whoweare/faculty/harrisr.htm 040. Networking - Börner, Katy http://ella.slis.indiana.edu/~katy/ 041. Peer Review - Bainbridge, William Sims http://www.nsf.gov/staff/staff_bio.jsp?lan=wbainbri&org=IIS&from_org=IIS 043. Triple Helix - Etzkowitz, Henry http://www.ebnfez2009.com/assets/speakers/henry%20etzkowitz_biography.pdf 044. Computer Simulation - Cioffi-Revilla, Claudio http://socialcomplexity.gmu.edu/director.php 046. Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education - Suter, Larry E. http://www.nsf.gov/staff/staff_bio.jsp?lan=lsuter&org=EHR&from_org=EHR 047. Virtual Organizations - Lutters, Wayne G. & Winter, Susan http://userpages.umbc.edu/~lutters/ 048. Managing for Innovation - Trott, Paul http://www.port.ac.uk/departments/academic/hrmm/staff/title,22618,en.html 049. Science Policy - Lane, Julia I. & Fealing, Kaye Husbands http://www.nsf.gov/staff/staff_bio.jsp?lan=jlane&org=NSF 050. Science Journalism - Lewenstein, Bruce V. http://www.comm.cornell.edu/staff/employee/bruce_v_lewenstein.html 053. Open Source Software Development - Scacchi, Walt http://www.isr.uci.edu/~wscacchi/ 054. Social Science Data Archives - Finke, Roger & Bader, Christopher D. & Whitehead, Andrew http://www.sociology.psu.edu/people/faculty/finke.shtml 055. Quantum Theory - Frappier, Melanie http://www.ukings.ca/kings_3635_11587.html 056. Sociobiology - Segerstrale, Ullica http://www.iit.edu/csl/ss/faculty/segerstrale_ullica.shtml 058. Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) - Harrison, Albert A http://psychology.ucdavis.edu/faculty/Harrison/ 059. Transhumanism - Hughes, James J. http://ieet.org/index.php/IEET/bio/hughes/ 060. Human Relations Area Files - Ember, Carol http://www.yale.edu/hraf/ 061. The Psychoanalytic Movement - Bainbridge, William Sims http://www.nsf.gov/staff/staff_bio.jsp?lan=wbainbri&org=IIS&from_org=IIS 062. High Resolution Computer Tomography Virtual Organization - Tapia, Andrea H. & Ocker, Rosalie & Rosson, Mary Beth & Ryan, Timothy & Blodgett, Bridgett http://andreatapia.net/ 063. The Protein Data Bank - Berman, Helen M. http://rutchem.rutgers.edu/content_dynamic/faculty/helen_m_berman.shtml 065. Digital Library Initiative - Lesk, Michael http://www.lesk.com/mlesk/ 066. Information Technology Research - Kiesler, Sara http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~kiesler/ 067. University Corporation for Atmospheric Research - Jacobs, Clifford A. http://www.nsf.gov/staff/staff_list.jsp?orgId=126&subDiv=y 068. National Nanotechnology Initiative - Roco, Mihail C. http://www.nsf.gov/eng/staff/mroco.jsp 070. German V-2 Rocket Project - Bainbridge, William Sims http://www.nsf.gov/staff/staff_bio.jsp?lan=wbainbri&org=IIS&from_org=IIS 071. Apollo Project - Launius, Roger D. http://www.si.edu/ofg/Staffhp/launiusr.htm 077. Polar Research - Korsmo, Fae L. http://www.nsf.gov/od/oia/staff/korsmo.jsp 078. The Mars Exploration Rover Mission - Vertesi, Janet http://janet.vertesi.com 080. Vaccination - Stein, Richard A. http://www.medpedia.com/users/226 081. Geographic Information Systems - Goodchild, Michael http://www.geog.ucsb.edu/~good/ 084. Services Science - Spohrer, James C. http://www.almaden.ibm.com/coevolution/bio/index.shtml?spohrer 087. Robotics in Japan - Yuh, Junku http://www.hau.ac.kr/english/introduce/profile.htm 088. Engineering Education - Seely, Bruce E. http://www.social.mtu.edu/people/bseely.htm 089. Chicago School of Sociology - Papachristos, Andrew V http://www.umass.edu/sociol/faculty_staff/papachristos.html 091. AAAS Education Programs - Chubin, Daryl E. http://www.aaas.org/ScienceTalk/chubin.shtml 092. Biology Postsecondary Education - Boylan, Myles http://www.nsf.gov/staff/staff_bio.jsp?lan=mboylan 093. Internet - Strawn, George O. http://www.nsf.gov/oirm/cio.jsp 096. Harvard Department of Social Relations - Bainbridge, William Sims http://www.nsf.gov/staff/staff_bio.jsp?lan=wbainbri&org=IIS&from_org=IIS 098. The Open University (UK) - Bissell, Chris http://technology.open.ac.uk/tel/people/bissell/ 100. The "New Math" - Raimi, Ralph A. http://www.math.rochester.edu/people/faculty/rarm/ Biosketch of the Editor: William Sims Bainbridge is the author of 20 books and about 200 articles in the areas of sociology of technology, social movements, and research methodologies. His first book, based on his 1975 Harvard doctoral dissertation in sociology, was a study of leadership in the social movement that produced spaceflight technology. In the early 1980s, he began writing computer programs: (1) to model social interaction using artificial intelligence techniques, (2) to manage and analyze data in ways that existing statistical packages could not do, and (3) as educational tools to let students explore methods of data collection and analysis. A recent example of the first category is his 2006 book, God from the Machine, for which he programmed a neural network multi-agent system to simulate religious cognition and conversion in a large community. An example of the second category is his 1991 book, Goals in Space: American Values and the Future of Technology, which required reducing a correlation matrix based on questionnaire data that was too large for the available commercial software, using novel clustering algorithms. Examples of the third category include two instructional packages combining a textbook with a suite of programs: Survey Research: A Computer-Assisted Introduction (1989) and Social Research Methods and Statistics (1992). After twenty years teaching in major universities, for the last seventeen years he has served as a program officer managing review of grant proposals in the social science and computer science directorates of the National Science Foundation. His current NSF concentration is in Human-Centered Computing, which harmonizes with his recent independent research and editing in the new field of online virtual worlds. His cover-featured article in the July 27, 2007 issue of Science explained the scientific potential of these virtual communities and Internet-based collaboration environments, and he recently began holding NSF grant proposal review panels on a virtual “island” in Second Life. His book about World of Warcraft is about to be published by MIT Press. After organizing the first large scientific meeting inside World of Warcraft in May 2008, in cooperation with Science, he edited a book growing out of the proceedings, Online Worlds, about to be published by Springer. His small textbook, Online Multiplayer Games, is about to be published by Morgan and Claypool, and he has just completed a new book manuscript, The Virtual Future, on how virtual worlds depict advanced science and technology. He has extensive experience editing publications on the societal implications of nanotechnology, converging technologies, and human-computer interaction. In addition to special issues of journals and the forthcoming book Online Worlds, he has edited or co-edited: 2001 Societal Implications of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology. Dordrecht, Netherlands: Kluwer. (Mihail C. Roco and WSB). Online at http://www.wtec.org/loyola/nano/societalimpact/nanosi.pdf 2003 Converging Technologies for Improving Human Performance. Dordrecht, Netherlands: Kluwer. (Mihail C. Roco and WSB). Online at http://www.wtec.org/ConvergingTechnologies/ 2004 Encyclopedia of Human-Computer Interaction. Great Barrington, Massachusetts: Berkshire. 2006 Progress in Convergence: Technologies for Human Wellbeing. New York: New York Academy of Sciences. (WSB and Mihail C. Roco). 2006 Nanotechnology: Societal Implications--Maximizing Benefit for Humanity. Berlin: Springer. (Mihail C. Roco and WSB). Online at http://www.nano.gov/nni_societal_implications.pdf 2006 Nanotechnology: Societal Implications--Individual Perspectives. Berlin: Springer. (Mihail C. Roco and WSB). Online at http://www.wtec.org/SocietalImplications/2/si2vii_report.pdf 2006 Managing Nano-Bio-Info-Cogno Innovations: Converging Technologies in Society. Berlin: Springer. (WSB and Mihail C. Roco).
I am delighted to report the release of Professor Eduardo Miranda's latest musical composition, which includes an essay written by me on the future of music. Eduardo's work operates at the intersection of art, science and music and my essay considers how musical compositions may be made in the future.
Here's a link to the CD and an excerpt from my essay:
Miah, A. (2011) Musical Intelligence for the Future, in Miranda, E. (2011) Mozart Reloaded, Sargasso Publishing [audio CD + book].
It may be no coincidence that Eduardo Miranda refers to his compositions as ‘recombinant’ processes, as this concept alludes to a way in which we might regard them as forms of biotechnological mutation, engineered to bring about new species categories. After all, Miranda’s work leads to the existence of new forms of musical experience and new ways of thinking about composition and creativity.
As with any biological mutation, the role of the creator in these compositions is difficult to specify. While certain processes begin with clearly defined interventions, the creative work also takes on a life of its own, intervening and changing the course of the final creation. We may even think of artwork generally in a similar way, whereby the artist’s influence on the final composition is understood as only one part of the series of processes that lead to the final work. When utilizing artificial intelligence to create art, this ambiguity is even more apparent.
Miranda’s compositions may be the first to answer the complex question of whether machines could ever approximate the kind of intelligence required to create music. In so doing, his work extends a number of discussions that have taken place in recent years about the possibility of artificial intelligence, the role of science and art collaborations, and what it is to be human.
On 14th June, the International Olympic Academy celebrated its 50th birthday.This important organization for the Olympic movement receives nearly no press attention, is funded by the Hellenic Olympic Committtee and is located in Olympia, Greece.
However, it is the most important contributor to Olympic education around the world. My early experience of the Olympics took place here where, as a doctoral student, I was fortunate enough to take part in the International Seminar for Postgraduate Students. Since then, I have been back numerous times to give lectures to students in the same session, as well as talks for the Higher Education Institute session. I also visited as part of the Scholars for Olympia 'pilgrimage' , after the 2007 fires in Greece, which devastated Olympia. Fortunately, the Academy survived, thanks to the local village community's protection.
What distinguishes the IOA experience is the range of international people that visit and spend time living with each other. Lectures are often critical of the Olympic movement, but there is a common interest, fascination and passion for being around the Olympics, which all who attend share. It is a in a beautiful, remote part of Greece and sits alongside the Ancient Olympic Stadium, which is both a tourist destination and the site where the Olympic flame is lit in advance of each Games.
For all who attend - Olympic critics and fans - the Academy is a remarkable, often life-changing place. It's also one of the few places where I'm prepared to forego my individuality and don on a suit for the ceremonies.
This year, the IOA will publish a book commemorating its first 50 years and I have made a contribution. Here are some photographs:
The Academy grounds after the 2007 fires - there were trees standing all around until then.
Coubertin Monument after the 2007 fire
Another massive reference text from SAGE and in it I have 2 contributions, one is on Yahoo! written with Ana Adi, the other on Virtual Worlds, written with Jennifer Jones. Priced at £225, this is one for your library to purchase!
Adi, A. & Miah, A. (2011) Yahoo!, in Barnett, G. Encyclopedia of Social Networks, SAGE.
Jones, J. & Miah, A. (2011) Virtual Worlds, in Barnett, G. Encyclopedia of Social Networks, SAGE.
This month, the Olympic Studies Centre in Barcelona published its latest book, commemorating 20 years since it began. I have a short testimonial within the book. The full title is: An Olympic Mosaic: Multidisciplinary Research and Dissemination of Olympic Studies. CEO-UAB: 20 Years and it can be found on their website soon.
New publication in this book by Simon Cottle and Libby Lester. The book chapter is written with Ana Adi and titled: Open Source Protest: Human Rights, Online Activism and the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.
Adi, A. & Miah, A (2011) Open Source Protest: Human Rights, Online Activism and the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games., in Cottle, S. and Lester, L. Transnational Protest and the Media. Peter Lang Publishers.
In a global, digitally mediated world, there are various dimensions of contemporary protest culture that require our reconsideration. First, the expansion of communication technology permits local concerns to reach a global audience with considerable immediacy who, in turn, may also actively shape their reception. A good example of this is the celebrity Stephen Fry’s1 re-tweeting of content related to the Iran election concerns of 2009 (McElroy, 2009). In this case, a celebrity’s sharing of content and active interpretation of what was taking place thus becomes a primary frame around the issue at hand. This is a clear example of a celebratory acting both as an activist, cultural intermediary, and journalist.
An open media culture means devolving some control over one’s ‘brand’ or agenda and permitting the community of followers to own and shape its development. This transition presupposes a shared value system, against which people may act and, while it is not difficult to imagine such common ground in some cases, such as the world economy or climate change, it will require considerable work to ensure that local concerns have the kind of relevance for a global audience that would lead to support, rather than audience apathy. This may require local communities to compromise on their issues for a wider audience in order to optimize the profile of their concerns. For example, protests about local housing policy injustice may seek an alliance with other such communities in other parts of the world.
Second, the rise of transnational concerns means that protests against the institutions that do business across borders will find themselves under greater scrutiny by even greater advocacy groups. Thus, the growing monopolization of global companies creates a series of tensions for both politicians and user communities. Such challenges were reflected in the 2010 dispute between China and Google over uncensored search engines, which demonstrated that such a universally shared view about media freedom and access to information is not yet apparent. The debacle gave rise to considerable acts of protest over China’s Internet laws.
More familiar examples of transnational protests have arisen in the context of fair-trade or ethical trade products, or concerns about the child labour. Of course, in the context of the Olympics, this has particular relevance, since its financial base is supported by some of the world’s biggest brands, such as McDonald’s, Visa, Lenovo, Coca-Cola, etc. From one perspective, the Olympic Games functions as a device to make such companies more publicly accountable – for example by adhering to the IOC’s environmental policies - and so one may argue that the Olympics is an arbiter of activist concerns. Yet, the broader social concerns about how such companies may benefit from a mega-event that many members of the public believe should be free from corporate interests, deems that this mechanism of building greater corporate responsibility may not always be a primary value for the general public.
Finally, a global, digital era requires us to interrogate what counts as activism or protest. While we strongly advocate the idea that even the most minimal gesture online should qualify – such as sharing a website address via the social networking platform Twitter – it will be necessary to consider strategically how different forms of activism lead to different results. Clearly, what arises from a Web 2.0 era of user-generated content is the capacity to build capacity and impact from the ground up. This is why a powerful web community can out perform a large transnational company in such terms as Google rankings and general visibility, as is typified by viral marketing campaigns. Yet, it remains to be seen whether digital activism – or hacktivism – can generate a significant impact without the involvement of traditional media. Of course, as a campaign escalates, there comes a point where the traditional media become an integral part of the cycle of news syndication, so these are incredibly difficult phenomena to analyze. Nevertheless, further research can study the interaction of traditional and online journalism to better gauge how convergence - a term that was applied to media systems in the 1990s - has reached the level of protest culture. In the Olympics, we suggest that this is already apparent.
In what ways can mediated transnational protests express, however emergently or imperfectly, «global civil society» and «global citizenship»? How, in an increasingly fragmented and multilayered communications environment, can they contribute to a «global public sphere»? This book explores these and other major questions, examining protests and their transactions within and through today's complex circuits of communications and media worldwide. With contributions from leading theorists and researchers, this cutting-edge collection discusses protests focusing on war and peace, economy and trade, ecology and climate change, as well as political struggles for civil and human rights, including the Arab uprisings. At its core is a desire to better understand activists' innovative uses of media and communications within a rapidly changing media environment, and how this is altering relations of communication power around the globe.
New publication in the Encyclopedia of Nanosciecne and Society, SAGE. Miah, A. (2011) Bioethics, in Guston, D. Encyclopedia of Nanoscience & Society, SAGE Reference. Here's the pre-print:
Bioethics broadly describes the philosophical analysis of moral dilemmas, which arise from the development and application of biological and life sciences, often through such practices as medicine. Bioethics became a formal academic discipline in the late 1960s developed through such institutions as The Hastings Center, which formalized research within academic journals and books. However, principles of bioethical concern have been apparent in a range of social practices for centuries.
Twentieth century bioethics was dominated by a global effort to protect human subjects from exploitative practices. In the post world-war II era, these interests focused on governmental experimentation, but quickly expanded to include a range of institutionalized practices that affect individuals and communities, including the military, elite sport, health care and employment. Theoretical approaches to bioethics in this era were characterized by a top-down derivation of principles, which aimed to provide overarching guidelines through which to codify ethical practice. Subsequently, bioethical theory critiqued the decontextualized approach of principle-based ethics and emphasized the complexity of real-world ethical decision making by developing a bottom-up or case-based (casuistry) approach. However, broadly speaking, approaches to bioethics encompass three main forms of moral reasoning 1) consequentialism (concerned primarily to maximize good outcomes) 2) deontology (concerned with the obligations we hold) and 3) virtue theory (concerned with what kind of character good people should have).
At the turn of the millennium, bioethical debates focused on the rise of genetics, as the Human Genome Project neared completion. The application of genetic science through screening, testing or transfer generated numerous public controversies about ‘designer’ organisms and led to the emergence of new biotechnological industries. Specialist inquiries into the emergence of genomics, genetically modified foods and a greater awareness about gene-environment interactions, slowly gave rise to a post-genomic scientific view and a resistance to genetic exceptionalism within bioethical research. To this end, attempts to establish a distinct sub-discipline of genethics have been largely inconsequential.
In this context, twenty first century bioethics faces a number of transformations. Primarily, there is a growing fragmentation of ethical communities (research and practice), which is giving rise to new terminologies, such as nanoethics or neuroethics. This fragmentation has been evident for some years through the overlapping ground between bioethics and medical ethics or environmental ethics. However, it is evident that this fragmentation will continue to grow through more specialist inquiries into subjects that include, for instance, the emerging subjects of information ethics, or the ethics of outer space.
Each of these sub-disciplines emphasizes the importance of transdisciplinary approaches to bioethics, which draw heavily on philosophy, law, sociology, political science, for instance. The fragmentation of bioethics is also amplified by convergence in the biosciences that operates around nanoscience. This process raises new questions about how to develop bioethical theory in a way that can accommodate new scientific practices. A corollary of these shifts is a growing sophistication in the bioethical method, which has begun to encompass narrative studies, feminist approaches to bioethics, cultural theory and aesthetics.
A final challenge to bioethics is the proliferation of new kinds of ethically engaged community and new interest groups, which themselves are altering the political landscape of bioethical debate. Prominent examples of this include discussions about human enhancement, as medical technologies increasingly make possible the ability to make humans ‘better than well’ (Kramer, 1994). It also encompasses the ethics of life or health extension, which arises as a direct consequence of attending to age-related disease. Many of these discussions have been taken up within a range of governmental advisory contexts, such as the United States President’s Council on Bioethics or the European Parliament.
As bioethics evolves, its proximity to public policy has grown and various bioethical communities may be seen as lobby groups on behalf of specific ethical positions, such as the Comment on Reproductive Ethics (CORE) in the United Kingdom. The challenge for nanoscience will be to define unique questions about the distinct terrain of nanoethics, while accommodating the widespread
SEE ALSO: nanoethics, medical ethics
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Fritz Allhoff, Patrick Lin, James Moor and John Weckert, Nanoethics: The Ethical and Social Implications of Nanotechnology (New Jersey, Wiley and Sons, 2007); Thomas L. Beauchamp and James F. Childress, Principles of Biomedical Ethics, 6th ed. (New York and Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2008); Deborah G. Johnson, “Ethics and Technology 'in the Making': An essay on the challenge of Nanoethics” Nanoethics 1: 21-30, 2007). Helga Kuhse and Peter Singer, A Companion to Bioethics (Oxford, Blackwell Publishers Ltd: 15-23, 1998); Peter Kramer Listening to Prozac (London, Fourth Estate, 1994); Thomas H. Murray, Genetic Exceptionalism and 'Future Diaries': Is Genetic Information Different from Other Medical Information? Genetic Secrets: Protecting Privacy and Confidentiality in the Genetic Era. M. A. Rothstein. (New Haven, Yale University Press: 60-73, 1997)
Just out in a new book edited by Peter Bramham and Stephen Wagg's, I have a chapter titled 'Towards Web 3.0: Mashing up Work and Leisure' .
Here's the book's blurb:
This book explores the new politics of leisure and pleasure in relation to a range of popular activities. Current generations in Western societies are essentially recipients of the changes that the Sixties – fabled decade of sex, drugs and rock n' roll - left behind. In their leisure lives – whether drinking, reading, surfing the net, taking drugs, going to a comedy gig, watching TV, taking a holiday, downloading music, supporting a football club, having a bet, having sex or simply roaming the countryside – people seem to enjoy unprecedented freedoms. But what are these freedoms? How are they exercised? And to what extent have traditional controls been relinquished?
Here's an excerpt from my chapter's Conclusion:
What would Clarke and Critcher have made of Web 3.0 back in the 1980s? What for them would have been the most profound transformations in how leisure is organized and experienced? Would it have been the way in which leisure consumers became complicit in their own surveillance by large corporations who seek to sell data about their leisure activity to any number of third parties? Would it have been the debates about censorship that rely heavily on highly questionable claims about media effects. Alternatively, would the way that internet labour is organized by communities through open source programming have been seen as the major transformation of our leisure practices?
One overarching concern seems to have been the potential harm that such technology could create for society at large. Back in the 1980s, the connectivity and communication opportunities that would arise from the rise of the Internet were hardly evident. Tim Berners Lee had yet to type the note that became the first description of the Internet on November 12 1990. Indeed, the word Internet did not even appear in Clarke and Critcher’s index. That said, speculations about the networked society were present in the lived reality of science fiction works, such as Neuromancer, the definitive cyberpunk romance novel. In the two decades since Clarke and Critcher, the Internet has more than one story to tell about how it has altered our leisure experiences.
Ten years after the publication of The Devil Makes Work, around 35million people were online worldwide (Kitchin 1998). Another ten years later in 2009, over 1.5 billion people are online and growth in all regions of the world remains high, though penetration varies considerably (5.6% in Africa versus 74.4% in North America) (see Internet World Stats 2009). In terms of the global digital divide, change is also still occurring. For example, the Chinese online population exceeded the US in 2008 and its mobile ‘phone population exceeds the entire UK population four times (China Internet Network Information Center, 2007). We can observe how the Internet has evolved and answer tentatively what sort of space it has become. We know that people use the Internet for many kinds of pursuit, from watching movies to having ‘cybersex’, with many different practices in between. It is also clear that the Internet is an arena for work-based activity and that, with the rise of social media environments, there is an increasing level of leisure based interactions in the workplace as a result. In fact, one of the dimensions of the internet in the 21st century is how leisure activity can be construed as a kind of labour.
The Internet has not transformed leisure completely. Instead, its most dramatic effect has been its ability to create new questions about issues the culture industries had thought were resolved, such as the attribution of intellectual property or censorship. There is no clean break between the Internet and these other leisure experiences, though it is frequently clear how the emergence of some new online artefact creates catastrophic consequences for other leisure forms. The sharing of music and film through such platforms as the early Napster, the more recent Pirate Bay and the newest Spotify are exemplars of this temporary system failure.
At a time of recession and amidst considerable optimism within the online world, one might wonder when the second Internet bubble will burst. It seems far too early to predict, but the collapse of the first bubble seems to have brought a maturity of expectations to online entrepreneurialism, there is a different culture of risk taking evident in how collaboration takes place. However, perhaps the most defining dimension of computing culture is its transient character. We cannot commit to the idea that any single platform we see today will be in use 10 years from now. As noted earlier, Twitter’s challenge to Google – which tried to buy it in 2008 for $500 million – is testimony to this idea. Thus, the concept of transient media seems an appropriate way of describing today’s media culture, because it draws attention to the fluidity of digital environments. It describes both the labour markets that underpin their development and the leisure communities that use them. The mashing-up of data described in the title also talks to this notion, since the relevant, enduring condition of the digital space will not rely on form, but on the cultural value attached to that performative act of mashing up.
I have worked with Revital Cohen since she was at the RCA Design Interactions programme. She has since exhibited all over the place and her latest output is 'Genetic Heirloom', an inquiry into the 'increased availability of genetic information'. She has worked with me, Richard Ashcroft, Anthony Dunne and Ainsley Newson to develop ideas around this subject and the latest output is a beautiful art book, within which I have a chapter titled 'A Decade of Genetic (Mis)Information'. Here's an excerpt:
Respectively, GATTACA and the Genetic Heirlooms represent public understandings of genetics that are characteristic of their times. In the late 1990s, GATTACA was released at a point when genetic determinism was taken for granted and where applications of genetic information were considered likely to lead to a two-tier society, dystopian in character and relentless in its pursuit of transhuman goals. In such a world, the genetically privileged people have has complete disregard for the ‘in-valid’, characterising those who leave their genetic predispositions to chance as irresponsible. In contrast, the Genetic Heirlooms is informed by two decades of public debate and relatively few achievements in genetic science, which refocus the debate from the pursuit of perfection to practical issues regarding the management of information and how its existence may transform human relationships. To this end, the Genetic Heirlooms imagine a world where people find ways of coming to terms with their genetic risk and even endeavour to remove harm by altering their environment, rather than directly modifying their genes.
At the root of each creative work is a debate about kinship, specifically what will bond people together in a world where the biological connections are engineered, rather than given. These issues have immediate relevance for society today, as pre-implantation genetic diagnosis nears a point where it could be utilized to select for the kinds of characteristics that may be characterized as lifestyle preferences, rather than health needs. Already, we are able to select for sex and accept this to some extent when it is related to some inheritable disease. Moreover, some countries have begun to discuss - and in some cases rejected - the merit of selecting for sex on the basis of ‘family balancing,’ where parents may just want a boy or a girl on the basis of wanting to ensure that they have a balance of each. Society is still not at a point where it has found moral cause in permitting widespread acceptance in such decisions, but it may be around the corner.
To help guard against any possible loss of human goodness that may arise from such an era, kinship should be our starting point when trying to assess what is at stake. Would optimizing our genes be considered a form of human enhancement, if it leads to the collapse of family ties, or bonds across humanity more generally? Could we accept conferring narrowly defined genetic modifications in pursuit of a particular form of human excellence, or would this compromise the broader aspirations a person may have for their life where the modification may actually be a hindrance?
These questions are beautifully expressed by the Genetic Heirlooms, which propose the transformation of our engagement with genetic inheritance. They present alternative views of understanding the significance of genetics, where mutation may be seen as a valued part of identity, something perhaps even to celebrate, when it allows certain freedoms that normal people cannot access.
Miah, A. (2011) A Decade of Genetic (Mis)Information, in R. Cohen. Genetic Heirloom, MTA Digital, no pagination.
New publication by Julian Savulescu, Ruud ter Meulen and Guy Kahane, comes out of the European ENHANCE project. I have a chapter here titled 'Physical Enhancement: The State of the Art'. here's an excerpt:
What unifies these examples of physical enhancements is their utility for activities beyond sport. One can imagine numerous forms of labor that would benefit from greater endurance, strength, or ability. Elite sports have always been a test space for enhancements and their rule-governed nature offers a useful structure through which to address how questions of justice would be played out within an enhancement-led society. Yet, is also apparent that enhancement is not just a functional quality, as many such modifications are utilized to improve appearance as much as performance.
The key challenge for enhancement advocates is to bridge the ethical gap between therapy and enhancement, to reach a point where new medical products can be developed and characterized for use by healthy subjects. While it is apparent that the medicalization of various conditions may be leading to this situation, an explicit shift in how medicine progresses will be necessary before a strong enhancement culture can emerge. Many forms of enhancement rely on the use of therapeutic technologies, which bring about transformations in the concept – such as the use of stem cells to promote tissue repair (Templeton, 2006). As these technologies begin to arise, an increasing number of questions will emerge about whether sports can stem the tide of enhancements alone, or whether broad social structures will intervene
What unifies these examples of physical enhancements is their utility for activities beyond sport. One can imagine numerous forms of labor that would benefit from greater endurance, strength, or ability. Elite sports have always been a test space for enhancements and their rule-governed nature offers a useful structure through which to address how questions of justice would be played out within an enhancement-led society. Yet, is also apparent that enhancement is not just a functional quality, as many such modifications are utilized to improve appearance as much as performance.
The key challenge for enhancement advocates is to bridge the ethical gap between therapy and enhancement, to reach a point where new medical products can be developed and characterized for use by healthy subjects. While it is apparent that the medicalization of various conditions may be leading to this situation, an explicit shift in how medicine progresses will be necessary before a strong enhancement culture can emerge. Many forms of enhancement rely on the use of therapeutic technologies, which bring about transformations in the concept – such as the use of stem cells to promote tissue repair (Templeton, 2006). As these technologies begin to arise, an increasing number of questions will emerge about whether sports can stem the tide of enhancements alone, or whether broad social structures will intervene. (p.272)
Miah, A. (2011) Physical Enhancement: The State of the Art, in Savulescu, J., Meulen, R.T., & Kahane, G. Enhancing Human Capacities. Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, pp.266-273.
This new volume published by the International Olympic Committee concludes with a chapter I have written titled 'Bioethical Concerns in a Culture of Human Enhancement'. There are some publications that have special meaning and this is one of them. The book is the IOC's XVII volume of their highly prestigious 'Encyclopaedia of Sports Medicine'. This volume may be regarded as the definitive book on the use of genetic technology in sports and my chapter is one of four that focus on social and ethical issues.
Given my views on doping, it feels like a privilege to be published here and reason for optimism that the world is a more open place than one may otherwise assume. The editors are Claude Bouchard and Eric P. Hoffman, the latter of whom I met in relation to a Hastings Centre and WADA project back in 2005.
Here's an excerpt from the Conclusion:
"The ethics of performance enhancement in sport are operationalized through WADA as a principle of “strict liability”, which deems that any positive anti-doping test means immediate suspension pending an inquiry. Yet, there are many biotechnological modifications that the sports world does not address, such as functional elective surgery. To this extent, questions remain about how genetic and molecular modifications or knowledge should be treated in the long term. Arguably, as humanity’s continued pursuit of health progresses, it will become apparent that the use of such science implies seeking to alter those biological processes that are a part of the aging process, and our intervention ultimately will ensure a collapse of the distinction between therapy and enhancement. If societies accept such continued pursuit, then the attempts to maintain sport as an environment free from enhancement will not simply be impractical or undesirable, they would also contravene fundamental human rights.
To this end, as the sports world races ahead to criminalize doping practices and treat the widespread use of performance enhancement as a broad public health issue, it will need to consider the interface between the local, national and international policy debates. Arguably, the political history of sport in the post-war period ensured that genetic science would be treated as a questionable technology for sports, where gene doping would become an integral part of the war on drugs. Yet, as the American Academy of Pediatrics (2005)noted, young people are not using steroids just for competitive sport. Rather, there is a broad culture of enhancement that underpins the use of technology. In time, genetic modification may become a part of this culture, though its integration within society will emerge first through applications that are medically justified and sports have yet to resolve how they will address the genetically modified athlete that society deems to be medically permissible." (pp. 390-391)
Miah, A. (2011) Bioethical Concerns in a Culture of Human Enhancement In Bouchard, C. & Hoffman, E. Encyclopedia of Sports Medicine, Genetic and Molecular Aspects of Sport Performance. Lausanne, International Olympic Committee, pp. 383-392.
Miah, A. (2010) The DREAM Gene for the Posthuman Athlete: Reducing Exercise-Induced Pain Sensations Using Gene Transfer. In Sands, R.R. & Sands, L. The Anthropology of Sport and Human Movement: A Bicultural Perspective, Lexington Books, Lanham, Maryland, pp.327-341.
Here's the book's blurb:
The evolution of the human species has always been closely tied to the relationship between biology and culture, and the human condition is rooted in this fascinating intersection. Sport, games, and competition serve as a nexus for humanity's innate fixation on movement and social activity, and these activities have served throughout history to encourage the proliferation of human culture for any number of exclusive or inclusive motivations: money, fame, health, spirituality, or social and cultural solidarity. The study of anthropology, as presented in Anthropology of Sport and Human Movement, provides a scope that offers a critical and discerning perspective on the complex calculus involving human biological and cultural variation that produces human movement and performance. Each chapter of this compelling collection resonates with the theme of a tightly woven relationship of biology and culture, of evolutionary implications and contemporary biological and cultural expression.
and my abstract:
Downstream Regulatory Element Antagonistic Modulator, or DREAM for short, is a protein critical to pain sensations experienced by organisms. Recent research has suggested that this genetic origin to pain might be possible to exploit for the purpose of pain management (Cheng et al., 2002; Cheng and Penninger, 2003). This paper discusses the ethical implications of DREAM for sport to advance the debate on what constitutes a legitimate method of performance modification. Initially, it is argued that DREAM presents a more complex problem for anti-doping authorities than other methods of gene doping, since it cannot easily be characterized as enhancing or therapeutic. Indeed, the basis of this distinction is criticized by exploring a biocultural definition of health. On this model, which seems unlikely to be endorsed by anti-doping authorities, but, nevertheless, which is perpetuated by sport physicians, the use of DREAM would seem more difficult to prohibit on medical grounds. Its use is consistent with a medical desire to alleviate suffering, even where it is self-induced. A similar dichotomy exists when discussing the relevance of pain from a sporting perspective. While one might presume that the ethics of sport is such that any legal mechanism to improve performance is desirable for an athlete, pain tolerance appears to have a symbolic value that would undermine the usefulness of DREAM. This tension demonstrates greater complexity to the debate about the role of technology in sport and its ideological connotations about what it means to be an athlete.
My latest publication in Pramod Nayar's new anthology. Our chapter is titled 'The Bioethics of Cybermedicalization' Moving beyond traditional cyberculture studies paradigms in several key ways, this comprehensive collection marks the increasing convergence of cyberculture with other forms of media, and with all aspects of our lives in a digitized world.
Preface ix Acknowledgments x Acknowledgments to Sources xii Introduction 1
PART ONE THEORIES, POETICS, PRACTICES 7 1 Web Sphere Analysis and Cybercultural Studies 11 Kirsten Foot 2 What Does it Mean to be Posthuman? 19 N. Katherine Hayles 3 Digitextuality and Click Theory: Theses on Convergence Media in the Digital Age 29 Anna Everett 4 The Double Logic of Remediation 46 Jay David Bolter and Richard Grusin 5 The Database 50 Lev Manovich 6 Making Meaning of Mobiles: A Theory of Apparatgeist 65 James E. Katz and Mark A. Aakhus
PART TWO SPACE, PLACE, COMMUNITY 77 7 Post-Sedentary Space 79 William J. Mitchell 8 The End of Geography or the Explosion of Place?: Conceptualizing Space, Place and Information Technology 90 Stephen Graham 9 Asphalt Games: Enacting Place Through Locative Media 109 Michele Chang and Elizabeth Goodman 10 Thought on the Convergence of Digital Media, Memory, and Social and Urban Spaces 117 Federico Casalegno
PART THREE RACE IN/AND CYBERSPACE 129 11 Cybertyping and the Work of Race in the Age of Digital Reproduction 132 Lisa Nakamura 12 Thinking Through the Diaspora: Call Centers, India, and a New Politics of Hybridity 151 Raka Shome 13 Voices of the Marginalized on the Internet: Examples from a Website for Women of South Asia 166 Ananda Mitra
PART FOUR BODIES, EMBODIMENT, BIOPOLITICS 183 14 Hypes, Hopes and Actualities: New Digital Cartesianism and Bodies in Cyberspace Megan Boler 185 15 The Bioethics of Cybermedicalization 209 Andy Miah and Emma Rich 16 Biocolonialism, Genomics, and the Databasing of the Population 221 Eugene Thacker PART FIVE GENDER, SEX, AND SEXUALITIES 251 17 Assembling Bodies in Cyberspace: Technologies, Bodies, and Sexual Difference 254 Dianne Currier 18 Lesbians in (Cyber)space: The Politics of the Internet in Latin American On- and Off-line Communities 268 Elisabeth Jay Friedman 19 E-Rogenous Zones: Positioning Pornography in the Digital Economy 284 Blaise Cronin and Elisabeth Davenport 20 Race, Gender and Sex on the Net: Semantic Networks of Selling and Storytelling Sex Tourism 307 Peter A. Chow-White
PART SIX POLITICS, POLITICAL ACTION, ACTIVISM 325 21 Internet Studies in Times of Terror 328 David Silver and Alice Marwick 22 Free Labor: Producing Culture for the Digital Economy 335 Tiziana Terranova 23 Ensuring Minority Rights in a Pluralistic and “Liquid” Information Society 357 Birgitte Kofod Olsen 24 Hacktivism: All Together in the Virtual 369 Tim Jordan
PART SEVEN GAMES, GAMING, META-UNIVERSES 379 25 Games Telling Stories: A Brief Note on Games and Narratives 382 Jesper Juul 26 WoW is the New MUD: Social Gaming from Text to Video 394 Torill Elvira Mortensen 27 Women and Games: Technologies of the Gendered Self 408 Pam Royse, Joon Lee, Baasanjav Undrahbuyan, Mark Hopson, and Mia Consalvo 28 To the White Extreme: Conquering Athletic Space, White Manhood, and Racing Virtual Reality 425 David J. Leonard 29 Your Second Life?: Goodwill and the Performativity of Intellectual Property in Online Digital Gaming 441 Andrew Herman, Rosemary J. Coombe, and Lewis Kaye
PART EIGHT THE DIGITAL, THE MOBILE, THE PERSONAL, AND THE EVERYDAY 465 30 Taking Risky Opportunities in Youthful Content Creation: Teenagers’ Use of Social Networking Sites for Intimacy, Privacy and Self-expression 468 Sonia Livingstone 31 Dynamics of Internet Dating 483 Helene M. Lawson and Kira Leck 32 Screening Moments, Scrolling Lives: Diary Writing on the Web 499 Madeleine Sorapure 33 Your Life in Snapshots: Mobile Weblogs 515 Nicola Döring and Axel Gundolf 34 Assembling Portable Talk and Mobile Worlds: Sound Technologies and Mobile Social Networks 526 John Farnsworth and Terry Austrin 35 New Media, Networking and Phatic Culture 534 Vincent Miller Index 544
In September, FACT published its 20 year history, edited by Mike Stubbs and Karen Newman. I've written the concluding chapter for the book, which gives you a taste of what else is inside. If you like wht you read and are eager to learn more about the UK's leading new media art organization, pick up a copy here.
By Professor Andy Miah, PhD
Published in Stubbs, M. & Newman, K. (2009) We Are the Real-Time Experiment. Liverpool University Press, pp.197-201
In the summer of 2006, I moved from Glasgow to a flat in Toxteth, Liverpool, which did not have internet access. At the time, social media was quickly becoming a popularised practice, I was blogging regularly and FACT’s wireless internet access was free. It still is. As a result, my time in Liverpool began as a client of FACT, one of its many nomadic notebook bearing café goers. We sit in the corner, by the window - ideally with a plug socket in reach – looking out into the atrium. This seems as good a starting point as any to explain part of what FACT means to its community or to those who pass through Liverpool. It also explains why FACT is necessary and what it might accomplish in the future, which is what I want to consider in this concluding chapter.
Even in 2009, after half a decade of free public wireless capability, the United Kingdom, along with many other developed countries, still expects to charge the public for internet access. Yet, free wireless internet access should be regarded as a public good in the 21st century, a public space even, like a park or a bridleway. Internet access is something we should be able to take for granted and expect everywhere we go, without having to pay a fee. Indeed, over the last five years, cities around the world have begun to treat wireless Internet access in this way, free to all, but in the UK the realization of this notion remains elusive.
In London, Mayor Boris Johnson expressed that London should have wifi throughout the city by the 2012 Olympic Games. These are valuable sentiments, but the crucial word – free – is not particularly evident in the campaign. Even the sole restaurant to have free wireless at Euston station has now been swept into another fee-paying ISP circuit. Moreover, Internet dongles are now appearing in the high street, each one charging us far too much for far too little. The aspirations of digital culture have yet to be met, yet so much more could be freely available already. Audio should be free. Video should be free. FACT understands this and its café goers are loyal because of its persistence to deliver open access.
Being vigilant of new media culture – advocating its promise and berating its limitations – infiltrates FACT’s work. Indeed, my three years in Liverpool has shown me that these dual discourses of promise and scepticism pervade many spheres of work in the city. I think this is why the history of FACT is such a contested space. FACT is clearly an organization that arose from collaboration, sharing and opportunism on behalf of upcoming cultural leaders in the city at the time. In 2008, the Chair of the European Capital of Culture, Phil Redmond, described the year as something like a scouse wedding, an analogy that pervaded the year’s media. He described how the process begun with disagreements over how best to deliver an exciting cultural programme, but when the time came, everyone had a good time and it all went very well. This analogy might work for explaining queries into FACT’s origins – whether it was indeed a ‘Liverpool invention’, as Lewis Biggs interrogates here. Biggs’ ‘regionalism’ narrative of FACT’s birth, which demonstrated how it took place amidst considerable political unrest within the UK, reveals even further how FACT might best be thought of as a Liverpool art work, rather than an invention.
Liverpool’s port city and slavery heritage, along with its contemporary ghettoization requires its institutions to make community a central part of their work, which also explains how the birth of FACT fits here. These are endearing qualities of the city and they shape my own experience of it, living now in the 1960s bohemian district, sandwiched between the Asian, African and Chinese communities, with the two cathedrals, a synagogue and a mosque all a short sprint away.
Reading Laura Sillars’ prologue to FACT’s history, I was struck by thoughts about the immediate past, Liverpool’s Year as European Capital of Culture in 2008, which was my major reason for coming to the city. The questions Laura asks might also be asked of 2008, a year with its fair share of challenges. How has FACT’s past contributed to Liverpool’s contemporary art and cultural environment? During 2008, FACT consolidated its past by entering into the Liverpool Arts Regeneration Consortium (LARC) collaboration, itself a product of necessity in times of difficulty leading up to 2008. As one of the major eight cultural institutions in the city, FACT inevitably became – for some – more of an institution than a grass roots organization, though with the arrival of its newly appointed CEO Mike Stubbs it remains artist-led. As such, 2008 consolidated FACT’s role as a key venue for major cultural events in the city, as well as becoming an organization that could just as easily have the Secretary of State for Culture wandering around its atrium, as it might have the prizewinner of ARS Electronica. This speaks volumes about how FACT has adapted over 20 years, defining its trajectory, while also stopping at each juncture to consider its choices.
For any successful organization, a rise in status implies a danger of losing the intimate connection with core membership, due to the imposition of other obligations that emerge from major funding opportunities. Concern about such prospective loss, but more broadly of the change that surrounded Liverpool during 2008 seemed integral to all of FACT’s works throughout the year. In 2008, I was fortunate enough to be part of FACT’s conversations on its future. I recall one of the first artists’ workshops of the Human Futures programme, which brought such artists as Stelarc and Orlan together, though not just to talk about bioethics and bioart (see Hauser 2008). Instead, a significant part of our debates focused more on what arts organizations – and artists – should be doing at the beginning of the 21st century
In 2009, the labour of these discussions bore fruit in the form of Climate for Change, FACT’s first exhibition for its UNsustainable year. Inviting local communities into the gallery space, FACT placed its creative vision in their hands, opening up a dialogue about its future and providing a space where the concerns of its peers could be heard. As an exhibition, its major art works were thus the people who inhabited the space, which brought new communities together and welcomed new publics into their fold. Yet, this was not just an exercise of public engagement or outreach. Rather, the exhibition’s thematic focus on ‘economics and sustainability’ issues, as Mike Stubbs explains in this volume, also demonstrates FACT’s desire to interrogate the conditions of contemporary mediatized and politicized debates about climate change, by linking them with broader issues of social and political unsustainability.
Throughout Climate for Change, I wondered what would be next for FACT. After all, what more can an arts organization do to support local communities than to hand over the gallery space for a period? Perhaps handing over the space permanently would be a more powerful gesture, but FACT’s communities are numerous, their audiences multiple – cinema goers, art lovers, café visitors, book shop browsers, bar quiz buffs, conference delegates, and so on (and even within each of these categories there is substantial variance). This composite audience is not unique to FACT. Actually, it may describe the conditions of being a 21st century arts and cultural institution, the kind of multi purpose media space that is arising in such places as King’s Place London, which opened in 2008. This is not to say that art is merely one of the things that FACT does. Rather, art – along with the two senses of creative technology mentioned by Sean Cubitt in this volume – pervades each of these other works. This is beautifully demonstrated in another 2009 work by Bernie Lubell whose bicycle powered cinema also takes FACT towards its next major intervention, a festival of new cinema and digital culture called Abandon Normal Devices or AND with aspirations of Olympic proportions.
Like FACT’s birth, AND is also the product of collaboration in the arts and new media sector, driven by FACT in Liverpool, Folly in Lancaster, and Cornerhouse in Manchester. Moreover, it arises partly from funds related to the Legacy Trust’s UK investiment in ‘We Play’, England’s Northwest cultural legacy programme for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The producers of the festival are working to ensure the investment extends well beyond 2012, hoping AND to become a key item in the national calendar. Here again, we see the duality of FACT’s identity at work – new cinema and digital culture – as an organization that champion’s new work and invites local communities to scrutinize it, as it does with its long-standing online community broadcast platform Tenantspin.
Abandon Normal Devices also lends itself to multiple, rich interpretations. It is an inquiry into the consequences of normalising processes - both physical and social – while also functioning as a conjunction, inviting the participant to invent associations: Body AND Economy, Art AND Health, Sport AND Culture. This cross fertilization of ideas offers a much needed opportunity to critically interrogate the Olympic period within the United Kingdom, as London 2012 prepares to host the Games for the third time (the first Modern Games city to have had this opportunity). After all, the idea of normality and our critique of it is implicit to the Olympic philosophy, which pivots on notions of individualism, nationhood, excellence and perfection. Indeed, this is prominent when observing how an athlete’s physique is being altered by technology, especially within disability sport. Very soon, it is likely that prosthetic devices will overtake the capabilities of their biological counterparts, thus transforming what it means to be the fastest or strongest person in the world (Miah, 2008, Wolbring 2008).[i] Indeed, in 2012 we might even see the first 100m sprint of the Olympics won by an athlete with prosthetic legs, signalling the beginning of the end of able-bodiedness as a privileged condition.[ii
The Olympic Movement is also wrestling with its future, as citizen journalists threaten the financial base of the Games by syndicating Olympic intellectual property and as the youth of the world – the Olympic Movement’s core community – shift their attention to video games and alternative sports, which have quite different values to their traditional counterparts. Already, there are major competitions around digital gaming with the first professional gamer, Fatal1ty, occupying central state. Cybersports are a part of this and many of the largest sports relying on digital technologies to constitute the training environment, taking sports into the digital arena.
As the first regionally devolved Olympics, FACT can have a major role in constituting the terms of this period, certainly in the Northwest, but perhaps more importantly by bringing together a national convergence of arts and new media with research into body economies (biotechnology, synthetic biology, AI, energy, etc). These processes have far reaching implications and might even signal the need to abandon traditional sports practices and re-interpret the Olympics once again. Artists can help here and their design of new technological encounters is demonstrative of this. Indeed, it is constitutive of the Olympic enterprise, which has always pushed the boundaries of technological excellence, from taking an Olympic torch underwater at the Sydney 2000 Games to using slow-motion for the first time in broadcasting.
FACT’s birth coincided with that of the Internet, which Tim Berners-Lee conceived on 12 November 1990. One might even say that FACT’s birth occurred at the moment of the Internet’s conception. As the Internet reached maturity around the mid 2000s, the Web 2.0 era transformed the web into a prolific offspring machine, with new nodes arising daily and data-based societies emerging where content production and creativity reached pandemic levels. The next 20 years of both FACT and the Internet will be very different from their first, but it is clear that they will be intimately connected. We already see a glimpse of their promise in Mike Stubbs’ appeal in this volume to establish the Collective Intelligence Agency (CIA), which urges us towards better-networked intelligence, rather than just better-networked stupidity. Information now moves in different ways, both offline and online. Google is beginning to look like an outdated model of information distribution, as new modes of semantic or real-time searching arise through such platforms as Twitter Search.
The implications of this are profound and require organizations to understand that they are no longer the sole proprietors of their Intellectual Property, which includes their public relations and marketing. Consider the fake twitter hashtag that was used around the South by South West (SXSW) festival in 2009, created by people who did not have access to the festival. The prominence[iii] of this ambush media allowed the fringe community to create their own alternative experience. Unlike urls, nobody owns hashtags and, by implication, nobody can restrict their use (yet). Coming to terms with the reality of distributed IP will be a central part of allowing an organization to move from a Microsoft model to an Open Source model. The rise of web 2.0 platforms such as Facebook and Flickr demonstrate this, as communities take ownership of their institutions.
Understanding how best to deal with these challenges requires re-stating what FACT does. Roger McKinlay reminds us that FACT is not driven by technology, but the desire to make technology ‘invisible.’ It is an organization that endeavours to put people together and provide them with the means to realize the potential of new technologies. Such work also involves subverting the parameters of new technology, as demonstrated by Hans-Christoph Steiner’s iPod hacking session, which took place during his recent FACT residency as part of Climate for Change. These aspirations to democratize technology speak to both enduring and emerging dimensions of our posthuman future. Around the world today research programmes are exploring the link between biology and computing, which also describes the intersection of new media art and bioart, a key focus of FACT’s recent work. The prospect of artificial general intelligence (AGI) and the singularity have pervaded philosophical inquiries into cognition and neuroscience over the last decade.[iv]
It is, thus, highly appropriate that we consider, finally, what FACT might be doing precisely 20 years from now in the year 2029. According to Wikipedia – yes, it is also an encyclopaedia for the future – this will be the year when machine intelligence passes the Turing Test and will have reached the equivalent of one human brain.[v] What we cannot know yet is how this will come about. How much of this achievement will be brought about by collaboration between artists and scientists within mixed media laboratories such as FACT?
Our consideration of FACT’s future must be also take into account Liverpool’s future. What will Liverpool look like in 2029? As Roger McKinlay reminds us in this volume, FACT’s first 20 years began during a recession. FACT’s next 20yrs begins in similar times and it is notable that, as Liverpool’s renaissance takes shape and it finds a way of emerging from 20 years of economic neglect, the largest global recession of the last 90 years hits the world. Nevertheless, Liverpool is a much more competitive place now for the visual arts. With new arts and cultural centres such as the Novas Contemporary Urban Centre, A-Foundation, an expanded Bluecoat centre and ever growing independent galleries, the Liverpool’s artistic renaissance is clearly underway.
Despite its name, the truth about what FACT was, is or will become remains elusive. It is still an artist led organization, but its art is not absent of responsibility, since it is also an institution that needs to have concern for such things as accessibility. There are additional opportunities that arise from this. FACT is beginning to play a more central role in shaping governmental policy, particular on digital culture and, in the future, this will surely be a stronger component of its work. It is also building a research capacity and a growing empirical base to align with this role. In so doing, it is also establishing a research Atelier – not a laboratory – proposing new models of undertaking practice based research and complementing this with more traditional forms. This work will help to reset the boundaries of research in the 21st century, back towards a stronger emphasis on arts-based knowledge. As a city, Liverpool is also well placed to support this process, having built legacy research into its year as European Capital of Culture – the first of any city to ring fence such funds around this programme. [vi] Indeed, it is perhaps one of the best-placed city within the UK and possibly Europe to build a model for cultural regeneration and it is apparent that London has similar aspirations for evaluating the impact of the London 2012 period.
From my position as a FACT Fellow, I occupy a space somewhere between the organization and my starting point in Liverpool, as its client. To this end, I perceive a tremendous self-induced pressure on FACT’s programme team to achieve broad, dramatic societal and creative impact through its work, expectations that are praiseworthy and highly ambitious. Yet, if they get even 80% towards those goals, they will have exceeded themselves. As such, I conclude with a pitch for what I would like to see next: a curatorial team established for an exhibition in 2029 or, better yet, 2049. I wonder if that has been done before.
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Hauser, J., Ed. (2008). Sk-interfaces. Liverpool, Liverpool University Press.
Janicaud, D. (2005). On the Human Condition. London and New York, Routledge.
Kurzweil, R. (2005). The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology. New York, Viking Press.
Miah, A. (2005). "Genetics, cyberspace and bioethics: why not a public engagement with ethics?" Public Understanding of Science 14(4): 409-421.
Miah, A., Ed. (2008). Human Futures: Art in an Age of Uncertainty. Liverpool, Liverpool University Press.
Miah, A. (2008). Posthumanism: A Crtical History. Medical Enhancements and Posthumanity. R. Chadwick and B. Gordijn, Springer. 71-94.
Wolbring, G. (2008). One World, One Olympics: Governing Human Ability, Ableism and Disablism in an Era of Bodily Enhancements. Human Futures: Art in an Age of Uncertainty. A. Miah. Liverpool, Liverpool University Press: 114-125.
Zylinska, J. (2009) Bioethics in the Age of New Media. MIT Press.
[ii] This was a possibility leading up to Beijing 2008, when Oscar Pistorius fought for his legal entitlement to compete. He has already appeared in other competitions, alongside so called able-bodied athletes. It is likely that his trajectory towards the London Olympics will be even stronger.
[iii] For example, the hashtag attracted such established media as the LA Times (2009) to report on it.
[iv] There is also more we might say about the relationship between biology and computing as prominent, competing discourses. As Dominique Janicaud (2005) explains, the bioethical has overtaken the digital as a public discourse, though so much of bioethics relies on digital configurations that it might be reasonable to subsume new media ethics within bioethics, as some authors have begun to explore (Miah, 2005; Zylinska 2009).
[v] This is based on Ray Kurzweil (2005) prediction, which derives partly from Moore’s Law.
[vi] There is, of course, the Liverpool City Council and Arts and Humanities Research Council research programme Impacts08, which draws on many local research collaborations. However, this evidence base also encompasses a range of additional research that has informed the city during these years, such as the City in Film project at Liverpool University and any number of community research projects that FACT and other organizations have implemented.