Designing Culture – New Text – 3

Word Cloud of key terms by Anne Balsamo

Reading this book made me think about how key terms really differentiate the work of each scholar. Anne Balsamo’s work  on the subject of New Media, sets her apart from other scholars due to her unique approach and ideas. She uses everyday terms like imagine, and innovate as the main central idea in her book.  All of us think of innovation when it comes to technology, but imagination is something we tend to overlook. The terms in Designing Culture make it a highly provocative book, which pushes the reader to think and act.  Below are some of the important key terms, with accompanying quotes from Designing Culture:

  • Technoculturethe interaction and politics of technology and culture.

“Technoculture must be understood as a historically specific formation: it is contingent on particular historical actions and forces, but not necessarily determined by them.” (Balsamo, 8)

  • Technological Imagination: A mindset that enables people to think with technology, to transform what is known to what is possible. allow for the continuity of cultural experiences across generations.

“The education of technological imagination is not just the business of engineers and computer scientists; on the contrary it is the responsibility of educators across the curriculum.” (Balsamo, 7)

  • Innovation: technological innovation: Balsamo gives us ten lessons of Technological Innovation. These lessons help us in gaining an understanding of her definition of Innovation.

“Those who engage in technological innovation are not simply involved in the creation unique consumer goods, digital applications, gadgets, and gizmos, but also in the process of designing technocultures of the future.” (Balsamo, 5)

Balsamo, AnneDesigning Culture: The Technological Innovation at Work. Duke University Press, 2011. Print.


Designing Culture – New Text – 2

There are only four chapters in the print version of Designing Culture. Since they form the main important aspects that Anne Balsamo tried to convey through her work, I wanted to do a review of them in the wiki page.

Chapter 1 – Gendering the Technological Imagination 
This chapter is an extension of the discussion on the topic of gender from her previous work. Balsamo states that, “Technology was always gendered. We just didn’t recognize it as such.” This chapter draws heavily from many feminist theories. The chapter begins by explaining how “intrinsic aptitude” is known to be the cause for imbalance in high-level positions held by men and women in many sought after fields. Towards the end of the chapter, Balsamo argues that the aim of femenist technocultural studies should be to theorize and critically analyze the situation of gendered subjects.  As a femenist, Balsamo herself intents to participate in the act of designing technoculture in ethically and socially responsible ways.

Chapter 2 – The Performance of Innovation
In this Chapter Balsamo shares her experiences as a member of RED (Research on Experimental Documents). This was a collaborative research group at Xerox PARC. They were responsible for creating experimental reading devices and new media genres. Balsamo shares her experiences as a new media designer for the development of RED’s interactive museum exhibit, XFR: Experiments in the Future of Reading.

Chapter 3 – Public Interactives and the Design of Technological Literacies
This chapter focuses on the literacy a designer must always take into consideration when designing interactive media. Balsamo examines new forms of literacy and scholarship. It also reflects how the interactives draw on existing literacies and require new ones for the future. It looks into the ethics of designing public interactives.

Chapter 4 – Designing Learning – The University as a site of Technocultural Innovation
In this chapter Balsamo discusses Designing Learning, and examines the role played by the University. According to Balsamo, in the Digital age new contexts and new habits create new subjectivities. This chapter also lays focus on the field of digital humanities in the University, and its role in transformative research. Balsamo touches topics like Education 2.0. She makes references to work of  other scholars like Henry Jenkins and Sherry Turkle. In the final section, she discusses how the future is shaped, and spaces are created due to the innovative research.

Balsamo, Anne. Designing Culture: The Technological Innovation at Work. Duke University Press, 2011. Print.

Designing Culture – New Text – 1

The book I chose for this assignment is Designing Culture by Anne Balsamo. I chose this book since I was impressed by the reviews on Amazon which emphasized the deep connect between culture and technology. After doing some research online, I became completely in awe of  Anne Balsamo. As a new media theorist she does a thorough job of presenting her work.
I think as important as theory is in this field, it has to be backed by some sort of obvious practice. Anne Balsamo’s website related to this book is so very interesting. One can easily tell she spent a ton of time, creating a interactive Flash website. I often notice how few scholars, write heavily about technology, but they fail to invest time in their blogs or websites. Since this is a transmedia project, it makes sense to collectively read the print version of the book, and to go through the contents in the website as well. The website was a bit more interesting to me, as it kept me engaged the entire time.Below is an overview of the contents of the website:

Print:  This page has a brief introduction to the author, her research interests, and a brief description of the book.

DVD: The print version of the book is accompanied by a DVD, titled “Women of the World Talk Back”. This resource is on feminist activism, and how it is affected by multimedia.

Exhibits:  This is the most interesting page in the entire site. It has many interactive exhibits. And furthermore, it has a Marshall McLuhan analyzer, that presents the exhibit based on what he would have to say about it.

Wall:  This page has many interesting wall books, which take the user on a journey through the histories of reading. Again, the use of flash to build these pages is outstanding.

Maps: This page has a bunch of amazing mind maps, that present topics such as the museum, technology etc. It basically maps the technological imagination.

Videos: Here are a collection of videos, related to topics in the book. Some of them are created by Balsamo, but few of them are her selections of interactive applications.

Blog: Here Balsamo basically goes into length to discuss some key aspects of her book.

Below, is a presentation of Balsamo talking about the book a few weeks before it released. In the presentation she talks about the highly interesting subject of technology and culture by the numbers. She also focuses on the transmedia aspect of her project, and gives us a short introduction to the book. This video is worth a watch to get the author’s perspective and context of the book.

Balsamo, Anne. Designing Culture: The Technological Innovation at Work. Duke University Press, 2011. Print