"Navigating" introduces you to big ideas in media theory and design (such as “convergence culture," user-centered approaches to understanding media evolution, "design thinking," and "the design process"). It also introduces you to powerful tools we'll use throughout this site to sense, map, navigate, and forecast media trends and forces.
One of those tools is: Parkour. Parkour is a deep metaphor--an extreme meme*-- for what ExtremeMediaStudies.org is about: how to sense, map, navigate, and forecast as a media designer and experimental thinker within an ever-changing media landscape.
Parkour is an art of movement. It's also a philosophy, a critique of urban space, and a means to open up new routes through obstacles and new ways to move as a human body.
Founded in France by David Belle, its name comes from the French verb parcourir: to travel through, to run over or through, to traverse. People who practice parkour are called traceur/traceusse.
Belle says that while martial arts are a form of training for the fight, parkour is a form of training for the flight.
But in parkour, flight is not avoidance. It ís a way of addressing obstacles or difficult situations by finding a way to move differently in relation to them--a way that allows the traceur/traceusse “to be and to last.”
An important characteristic of parkour is efficiency. A traceur/esse moves not merely as fast as s/he can, but also in the least energy-consuming and most direct way possible. Each obstacle presents a traceur/esse with a unique challenge to how they might overcome it effectively. And this depends on many things, including their body type, speed and angle of approach, the physical make-up of the obstacle. Parkour is about training body and mind to sense and react to obstacles appropriately through absorption and redistribution of energy.
We turn to this new urban practice for inspiration on how we might sense, map and navigate landscapes of extreme media phenomena--especially as they are in motion, laying down unexplored territories moment to moment.
Every designer, user, and student of media today needs skills similar to those of a parkour traceur/esse: a way to "sense forward," artful navigation through unfamiliar contexts; a way to make choices about why to move this way instead of that way as a media designer or theorist; a critical perspective that opens up new routes for thinking and acting through obstacles thrown up by habit or short-sightedness; and new ways of moving-with the world and other people.
In ExtremeMediaStudies.org theory becomes an experiment in thinking. We're going to use theory to prolong thinking by making thinking a form of practice. Here, thinking is for inventing. It's for experimenting in and with the world and ourselves. Thinking is for surprising ourselves with new ways of moving through the world and making something of it. Thoughts and theories are little inventions. They are already a part of our doing. They aren't for arriving at "right" knowledge about media. They're for releasing what is thinkable, possible, doable at a given moment--but which is somehow captured and bound up in habitual ways of thinking or outmoded theories about what things "are." --Elizabeth Ellsworth read more...
In America, media is business and business is media. There are two species of professionals. On one side there are those who manage the media industries – movies to broadband, books to gaming. They are the 'suits.' On the other side are the 'jeans'–a wide range of production professionals: writers, directors, performers, editors and others who develop content. Very few of either business guys or the creatives would recognize a third classification: media designers. But that is precisely the creature we want to turn you into. --Kit Laybourne read more...
Experience four flashpoint web-exhibitions that provocatively visualize topics of massive change:
At this moment, an extreme media phenomenon is rearranging media landscapes on a global scale. It is confounding media theorists, business strategists, designers, device innovators, and cultural critics alike. Unfolding rapidly, it escapes our abilities to fully understand it, channel its directions, or harness its powers.
Meet Henry Jenkins. He is the Peter de Florez Professor of Humanities and Co-Director of the MIT Comparative Media Studies program. He sensed something new and massive happening across media, old and new. He started to investigate the shifts he sensed. He has positioned himself at a collision point--the convergence of two powerful streams of change: old and new media. From that collision point, he is trying to map, navigate, and forecast the forces that are playing out. Read more >>
When you shift perspective in a GoogleEarth map from, say, seeing the world with political borders to seeing it without, new ideas about the world become possible and thinkable.
With a similar result, David Edgerton has flipped upside down many of the conceptual maps that people hold in their heads about technology. In The Shock of the Old: Technology and Global History Since 1900, Edgerton argues that, while streams of technology innovation feed the rivers of economic growth and cultural evolution, technological innovation is not the main force behind events and deep core changes in society. What really pushes social change, he says, is how people use technology. The purposes for which people use technology change both the technology and the fabric of life around them. Read more >>
Watch as an expert practitioner of media studies parkour rides the waves of volitile media change. Chris Anderson, editor of WIRED magazine, demonstrates his technique in this talk entitled "Technology's Long Tail." Anderson shows us how to recognize four stages that emerging technologies pass through; "collisions" that set them off in different directions of development and sometimes turn them extreme; and ten trends that he sees as critical to media futures right now.
Follow technology's long tail into the future with Anderson by visiting his blog.
Kit and Liz interviewed Jared Braiterman, Ph.D., and Wendy Owen of Giant Ant and asked them questions on the minds of all extreme media studies traceur/esses: how do you see beyond the here & now to possible media futures when everything is in motion?
Practice your new parkour-like skills of sensing, mapping, navigating, and forecasting extreme media phenomena. Shape the extreme media phenomena that are shaping you.